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NINDS: Stroke Proceedings: Introduction

Proceedings of a National Symposium on Rapid Identification and Treatment of Acute Stroke
December 12-13, 1996


This monograph demarcates a new era in the treatment of stroke. Acute early intervention to reduce the disability caused by stroke has been shown to be effective. No longer can we stand by while stroke-threatened brain undergoes irreversible injury. The national effort to change the way stroke is treated began at a National Symposium on the Rapid Identification and Treatment of Acute Stroke held on December 12 and 13, 1996. The recommendations and conclusions of the participants at that Symposium are summarized in the following pages.

This monograph is not about one particular treatment for stroke or one particular type of stroke. All stroke presents as the sudden onset of a neurological deficit such as weakness, paralysis, or loss of speech. While the syndrome of strokes is the same, the causes can vary widely and be as different as bleeding in one case and the formation of a blood clot in another. Each type is treated differently. Common to all stroke types is the need for rapid emergency examination, diagnostic testing, and treatment, if possible, before the few minutes or hours pass that it takes for brain injury to become permanent. This monograph is about how the current medical system can be changed to meet the needs created by the recent demonstration that the majority of stroke patients could receive effective treatment if they could be seen and treated soon enough. Rapid response is required if we are to see the benefits resulting from decades of laboratory and clinical stroke research devoted to the development of effective methods to treat and prevent stroke from all causes.

The recommendations and suggestions presented in this monograph were developed during the Symposium by representatives from more than 50 organizations interested in the care of stroke patients. Many different points of view are included. The participants agree that rapid treatment of stroke is required if we are going to reduce disability and improve the quality of life for stroke victims. The actual systems needed to accomplish the task will be different in each community. A wide variety of recommendations for national planning and community action were developed by the participants. If successful, this monograph will facilitate planning and development of systems that give the same urgency of care to stroke patients that is given to patients with myocardial infarction and trauma.

John R. Marler, M.D.
Medical Officer
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


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National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892

Last Modified May 17, 2011