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REF NO.: 39

SUBJECT: ‘You only get one shot’: N.L. stroke treatment rates lag behind rest of Canada

DATE: Jan. 21

Newfoundland and Labrador has a higher rate of stroke than any other province.
 
There are 1,200-1,400 strokes annually in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s the third highest cause of death in Canada.
 
However, Dr. Greg Browne says many strokes can be prevented if patients learn to recognize the signs and get to a hospital immediately for treatment.
 
“If you recognize that you’re having a stroke, you need to get to an emergency room as fast as possible,” said Dr. Browne, a vascular specialist in St. John’s. “One shot of a drug called Alteplase can stop or even reverse the harmful effects of a stroke, but it has to be given within four-and-a-half hours from the start of a stroke.”
 
Alteplase is a tissue plasminogen activator; it works by breaking down the blood clots that cause some kinds of strokes and heart attacks.
 
Dr. Browne notes that in this province, stroke patients are treated at rates far behind those elsewhere across the country. Only 10 per cent of patients here receive a shot of Alteplase in time for it to be effective. The national target for treatment is closer to 25 per cent.
 
If you think you or someone you love is having a stroke, Dr. Browne recommends to act “FAST”: If your Face is drooping, your Arm is weak, and your Speech is slurred, it’s Time to get to the emergency room right away.
 
“Remember, you only get one shot to act FAST,” said Dr. Browne. 

With his partners at Quality of Care NL/Choosing Wisely NL, Dr. Browne recently released a public service announcement reminding viewers of the warning signs of stroke, and the importance of Alteplase treatment within four-and-a-half hours.
 
More information can be found on the Quality of Care NL/Choosing Wisely NL website.
 
Quality of Care NL/ Choosing Wisely NL
 Quality of Care NL/Choosing Wisely NL is a program to help improve the quality of care patients receive in our province by ensuring that the right treatments get to the right patients at the right time. It is an educational initiative seeking to more efficiently match a patient’s medical needs with the most appropriate type of care that is safest for the patient. For each initiative and outreach program, Quality of Care NL/Choosing Wisely NL has identified key areas of risk and will work towards improving, through the supply of educational resources, the appropriate use of testing and treatment in these areas. The program officially launched in October 2016.

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For all media inquiries, please contact Michelle Osmond, senior communications advisor, Faculty of Medicine, at michelle.osmond@med.mun.ca or (709) 728-2364.

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