Updated guidelines recommend improving access to specialised stroke units and thrombolytic therapy, and the rapid assessment of patients with transient ischaemic attacks for stroke risk
Stroke, with its high incidence and serious consequences, is one of the foremost health challenges for Australia and globally. Although stroke rates appear to be decreasing,1 population ageing will intensify the impact of this disease and the need for effective prevention and management strategies.2 Stroke is a complex disease with a range of causes, manifestations, outcomes and treatment approaches, but is too common and costly to be left as the province of a single clinical discipline, neurology. As the therapeutic time window in which to rescue or “protect” the brain from ischaemic damage is extremely short, there is a need for good systems of communication and responsive, expert team care, both in the community and in hospitals, to ensure safe and effective delivery of interventions early after onset and in subsequent phases of acute stroke. Indeed, the single most important therapeutic advance in stroke medicine is arguably the recognition that well coordinated, multidisciplinary care in the form of stroke care units (SCUs) can significantly improve the chances of recovery from stroke. So how can we improve patient access to expert SCU care and therapies that provide the best opportunity for a favourable outcome?
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