Telestroke speeds treatment

The average human brain has 22 billion neurons. When stroke occurs, those numbers go down as precious minutes add up. Stroke victims lose 1.9 million neurons per minute without treatment. Time and access to specialized care are essential in surviving a stroke. 

There is a critical four-and-one-half hour window of opportunity to administer the clot-dissolving treatment alteplase, which can limit and sometimes reverse the neurological damage suffered during an ischemic stroke. But, if it’s going to work, qualifying patients must reach an emergency department and receive treatment when it is expected to be clinically effective.  

While many Minnesota hospitals are well equipped to provide care to stroke patients, the needed 24/7 access to on-call neurologists experienced in administering this treatment is usually limited to large urban areas. This neurological expertise can be critical in correctly diagnosing patients who might benefit from alteplase and other forms of treatment.

At Allina Health, these geographic barriers are overcome with the use of telemedicine. Through TeleStroke, the stroke code teams from Allina Health export stroke expertise to smaller regional hospitals using video technology. Stroke neurologists from Allina Health's certified Comprehensive Stroke Centers participate, making themselves available 24/7 to offer this service to a number of affiliated regional hospitals. This partnership allows us to expedite the critical diagnosis and treatment decision.