Research to bring brain-saving stroke treatment to rural areas

Apr 6 2009

Minister for Science and Medical Research Jodi McKay today launched an Australian first research trial which aims to deliver brain-saving stroke treatment to rural communities.

Ms McKay said the rural trial of the Pre-hospital Acute Stroke Triage (PAST) Protocol will give stroke patients in the Upper Hunter, Great Lakes and Lower Manning areas access to world class thrombolysis or clot-busting stroke treatment as soon as possible.

“This revolutionary stroke treatment is already being applied successfully in Newcastle and Gosford and will now be offered to rural communities for the first time,” Ms McKay said.

“There is an estimated 160 stroke patients from the Upper Hunter, Great Lakes and Lower Manning each year.

“That’s 160 patients who could benefit from clot busting treatment, capable of reversing the debilitating effects of stroke.

“Previously this treatment was only available in capital cities or regional centres across Australia.”

Ms McKay said if the trial shows that the system is successful in a rural setting, it could be rolled out nationally to benefit thousands of stroke patients and save millions of dollars in health care costs each year.

Associate Professor Chris Levi, a member of the HMRI Stroke Research Group and Director of Acute Stroke Services for Hunter New England Health, said time is our enemy in treating stroke.