Stroke 2003 Mar 6;34(3):729-33. Epub 2003 Feb 6.
Department of Neurology, University of Florida, Jacksonville, USA.
Background And Purpose: Giving stroke victims who reside outside communities with hospitals that can administer tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) access to thrombolytic therapy is a challenge. Helicopter transport to a stroke center is a potential way to make rtPA available to these communities. We examined the experience of the Shands-Jacksonville Acute Stroke Transport Program, a field-to-stroke center helicopter transport program that serves rural counties in the northeastern Florida/southeastern Georgia region.
Methods: Prospectively collected data of 111 consecutive helicopter transports to Shands-Jacksonville, from an 11-county region, over a 3-year period were reviewed.
Results: Eighty-five patients (76%) had a cerebrovascular event. Forty-seven patients (42%) had an ischemic stroke, 19 (17%) had a transient ischemic attack, and 19 (17%) had a hemorrhagic stroke. Thrombolytic therapy was administered to 18 ischemic stroke patients (38%), with 15 being treated intravenously. Three patients who arrived beyond the 3-hour window were treated intra-arterially. Average field-to-hospital distance for all patients was 29.4 miles (range, 11 to 90 miles). Most patients (n=65) arrived within 135 minutes from symptom onset.
Conclusions: A helicopter-based transport system can link a rural region to a stroke center and promote access to thrombolytic therapy.