New Study Reports Women, Elderly and Medicaid Stroke Patients May Not Have Equal Access to State-of-the-Art Care

Jun 24, 2004, 01:00 ET from National Stroke Association

    ENGLEWOOD, Colo., June 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Three quarters of a million
 Americans will have a stroke or brain attack this year, according to the
 National Stroke Association.  Today researchers from the University of
 Washington School of Medicine reported findings that suggest that not all
 stroke patients have equal access to the only Federal Food and Drug
 Administration (FDA) approved acute ischemic stroke treatment.  The report was
 released during the 5th International Stroke Society World Congress in
 Vancouver, B.C.
     It is estimated that 80 percent of strokes are ischemic, where a clot
 causing a stroke blocks an artery or blood vessel.  There is currently only
 one FDA approved "clot buster" medication called tissue plasminogen activator
 (t-PA).  This drug must be administered within three hours of the first stroke
 symptom.  The Washington researchers looked at hospital discharge data of
 26,069 stroke patients over the age of 45 in Washington State from 1999-2002.
 The records indicated 306 patients (1.2%) were treated with t-PA.
     In the review, female ischemic stroke patients received the drug
 significantly less often than men.  The odds ratio for female stroke treatment
 with t-PA is 0.72.  The study also reported elderly patients were 28 percent
 less likely to be treated with t-PA for every decade older than 45 years of
 age.  Patients on Medicaid were about half as likely to get t-PA compared to
 Medicare patients.
     The study showed a trend that hospitals treating more ischemic stroke
 patients were more likely to give t-PA therapy.
     "This study suggests there may be unequal access to t-PA therapy for acute
 ischemic stroke based on age, gender, type of medical insurance and the amount
 of stroke care given at a hospital.  Further research needs to be done to
 confirm and possibly explain these findings.  Similar disparities in access
 may exist nationwide and could have implications for stroke triage in
     National Stroke Association wants patients to ask their doctors about the
 latest in stroke treatment and which hospitals in their area have the greatest
 expertise in treating stroke.
     Based in Englewood, Colo., National Stroke Association is a leading,
 independent national nonprofit organization devoting 100 percent of its
 efforts and resources to stroke.  For more information contact NSA at
 1-800-STROKES (767-6537) or visit

SOURCE National Stroke Association