Background and purpose: Acute ischemic stroke patients are infrequently treated with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA). We present unique population-based data regarding the eligibility of ischemic stroke patients for rtPA treatment.
Methods: All ischemic strokes presenting to an emergency department (ED) within a biracial population of 1.3 million were identified. The patient was considered eligible for rtPA on the basis of exclusion criteria from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke rtPA trial.
Results: Of 2308 ischemic strokes, 1849 presented to an ED. Only 22% of all ischemic strokes in the population arrived in the ED in <3 hours from symptom onset; of these, 209 (51%) were ineligible for rtPA on the basis of mild stroke severity, medical and surgical history, or blood tests.
Conclusions: In our population in 1993 to 1994, 8% of all ischemic stroke patients presented to an ED within 3 hours and met other eligibility criteria for rtPA. Even if time were not an exclusion for rtPA, only 29% of all ischemic strokes in our population would have otherwise been eligible for rtPA.