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Stroke Education Mailing Cut Time-to-Hospital for Women

Last Updated: September 17, 2009.

A population-based intervention, in the form of a letter emphasizing the need for rapid medical care for stroke, effectively reduced delays in women getting to the hospital, but not men, according to a study in the Sept. 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

THURSDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- A population-based intervention, in the form of a letter emphasizing the need for rapid medical care for stroke, effectively reduced delays in women getting to the hospital, but not men, according to a study in the Sept. 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Jacqueline Muller-Nordhorn, M.D., of the Berlin School of Public Health, and colleagues distributed 75,720 letters to Berlin residents describing stroke symptoms and emphasizing the importance of emergency care within three hours of symptoms. A bookmark and sticker listing the emergency medical services' telephone number were also sent. The researchers looked for incidence of stroke and compared time between symptoms and hospital admission for the patients from areas receiving the letters (intervention) and those that did not (control).

From 2004 to 2005, the researchers found that 647 patients with stroke were admitted to hospitals from the intervention areas compared to 741 patients from the control areas. Overall, among the intervention-area patients, 26 percent had a prehospital time of two hours or less and 34 percent had a prehospital time of three hours or less compared with 22 and 28 percent, respectively, among patients from the control areas. Prehospital time was cut by 27 percent among women from the intervention areas, but no significant effect was discerned in men.

"The population-based intervention was effective in reducing prehospital delays in women but not in men. Future research should focus on the potential transferability of the intervention, its sustainability, and sex-specific impact," the authors write.

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