Thrombolysis with alteplase administered within a narrow therapeutic window provides an effective therapy for acute ischaemic stroke. However, mainly because of prehospital delay, patients often arrive too late for treatment, and no more than 1-8% of patients with stroke obtain this treatment. We recommend that all links in the prehospital stroke rescue chain must be optimised so that in the future more than a small minority of patients can profit from time-sensitive acute stroke therapy. Measures for improvement include continuous public awareness campaigns, education of emergency medical service personnel, the use of standardised, validated scales for recognition of stroke symptoms and for triaging to the appropriate institution, and advance notification to the receiving hospital. In the future, use of telemedicine technologies for interaction between the emergency site and hospital, and the strategy of treatment directly at the emergency site (mobile stroke unit concept), could contribute to more efficient use of resources and reduce the time taken to instigate treatment to within 60 min--the golden hour--of the onset of the symptoms of stroke.
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