Prehospital stroke care: limitations of current interventions and focus on new developments.

Laetitia Yperzeele, Robbert-Jan Van Hooff, Ann De Smedt, Alexis Valenzuela Espinoza, R. Van De Casseye, Ives Hubloue, Jacques De Keyser, Raf Brouns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)



The global burden of stroke is immense, both in medical and economic terms. With the aging population and the ongoing industrialization of the third world, stroke prevalence is expected to increase and will have a major effect on national health expenditures. Currently, the medical treatment for acute ischemic stroke is limited to intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (IV r-tPA), but its time dependency leads to low utilization rates in routine clinical practice. Prehospital delay contributes significantly to delayed or missed treatment opportunities in acute stroke. State-of-the-art acute stroke care, starting in the prehospital phase, could thereby reduce the disease burden and its enormous financial costs.


The first part of this review focuses on current education measures for the general public, the emergency medical services (EMS) dispatchers and paramedics. Although much has been expected of these measures to improve stroke care, no major effects on prehospital delay or missed treatment opportunities have been demonstrated over the years. Most interventional studies showed little or no effect on the onset-to-door time, IV r-tPA utilization rates or outcome, except for prenotification of the receiving hospital by the EMS. No data are currently available on the cost-effectiveness of these commonly used measures. In the second part, we discuss new developments for the improvement of prehospital stroke diagnosis and treatment which could open new perspectives in the nearby future. These include the implementation of prehospital telestroke and the deployment of mobile stroke units. These approaches may improve patient care and could serve as a platform for prehospital clinical trials. Other opportunities include the implementation of noninvasive diagnostics (like transcranial ultrasound and blood-borne biomarkers) and the reevaluation of neuroprotective strategies in the prehospital phase. Key Messages: Timely initiation of treatment can effectively reduce the medical and economic burden of stroke and should begin with optimal prehospital stroke care. For this, prehospital telemedicine is a particularly attractive approach because it is a scalable solution that has the potential to rapidly optimize acute stroke care at limited cost.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalCerebrovasc Dis
Issue numberAugust
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Prehospital stroke care
  • interventions
  • new developments
  • stroke

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