OBJECTIVE: Tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the treatment of patients with acute ischaemic stroke presenting within three hours from onset of symptoms. This study aims to identify the potential number of stroke patients suitable for t-PA in Hong Kong. METHODS: All patients with a clinical diagnosis of acute stroke were recruited. Data collected included demographics, vital signs, medical history, contraindications to thrombolysis, severity of stroke (Canadian neurological scale), time course from onset of symptoms to computed tomography, computed tomography results, and final diagnoses by physicians. RESULTS: During the five month study period, 201 patients were recruited and nine were subsequently excluded from further analysis because computed tomography was not performed. Their mean age was 70.9 (range from 41-91) years. Eighty (41.7%) and 100 (52.1%) patients presented to our emergency department within two hours and three hours respectively from symptom onset. The mean severity score (Canadian neurological scale) was 7.83 (out of a maximum of 11.5). A total of 132 (68.8%) patients had acute ischaemic stroke confirmed by computed tomography. Mean delay in computed tomography was 4.91 hours. Fourteen (7.3%) and 52 (27.1%) of all patients had computed tomography of the brain done within one and two hours respectively. Only 20 patients (10.45%) could meet the three hour criteria as stated in the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke rt-PA stroke study and seven (3.6%) of them were confirmed to have acute ischaemic stroke. Two patients were further excluded because of high systolic blood pressure and current warfarin medication. CONCLUSION: At present very few patients could benefit from thrombolytic treatment. Delays in the chain of recovery in stroke management should be identified and corrected.
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