UW Comprehensive Stroke Center Launches New Trial, Support Group

Madison, Wisconsin - The UW Comprehensive Stroke Program will soon have three clinical trials available for patients who have suffered strokes.


“We’re excited to be a center for these trials, and anticipate more clinical trials on the horizon as the new nationwide stroke network starts up,” says Dr. Robert Dempsey, chair of neurological surgery. The National Institutes of Health Stroke Net recently selected UW as a regional coordinating center for the Upper Midwest; it will coordinate new clinical trials for patients at about two dozen health centers throughout Wisconsin, northern Illinois and on tribal lands.


Dr. Azam Ahmed will lead the UW’s participation in the newest trial, MISTIE III (Minimally Invasive Surgery Plus rt-PA for Intracerebral Hemorrhage Evacuation) trial, which is looking at a new way of treating stroke using minimally invasive surgery and a clot-busting drug. In addition, the UW is already part of the PRISMS trial, led by Dr. Luke Bradbury, which is studying whether clot busting drugs help people who suffer mild strokes, and the POSTIVE trial, led by Dr. Beverly Aagaard-Kienitz, a study of endovascular therapy for acute stroke patients who are outside the time window for traditional treatment.


The UW Comprehensive Stroke Program is also positioned to incorporate promising study results presented at this month’s American Stroke Association meeting. Three large studies focused on ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood clot blocks blood to the brain. The studies showed that rapid endovascular treatment that delivers a blood clot-busting drug, or a stent can dramatically improve outcomes.      


“We are fortunate to have three fellowship-trained endovascular surgeons on staff who already have experience with these procedures and devices,” says Dr. Justin Sattin, medical director of the UW Stroke Program. “We are well-poised to incorporate all these new recommendations to achieve optimal care for our patients.”


The UW program was the first in the Upper Midwest to earn The Joint Commission’s “comprehensive” ranking, denoting the highest level of care. It was recently recertified after a series of visits by national inspectors. Their comments praised the stroke center’s resources, teamwork, communication, engagement, loyalty and patient-centered care.


In addition, the UW also serves as the hub for the Wisconsin Telestroke Network, which allows UW stroke neurologists to use the Internet to evaluate people who have stroke symptoms and who come to hospitals in rural Wisconsin and northern Illinois. This allows patients to receive the brain-saving medication sooner, either at their home hospitals or while en route to the UW for more extensive neurological treatments.


Care for stroke patients extends beyond the hospital, as well. The UW will host Stroke Night for regional emergency medicine providers in April. Stroke program coordinator Chris Whelley says the program will likely focus on some of the new findings and how they should change practices. The UW has been part of a quality improvement project that has decreased time to treatment for patients well below the one hour benchmark .


“At the end of the day, these studies emphasize what we already know – that time equals brain cells and the quicker we can treat our patients, the better they will do,” she says.


UW Health is also launching a new program for survivors of stroke, aneurysm and other brain injuries. The first meeting of the “Fresh Start” group is scheduled for 6:30 March 19 at the Fitchburg Library, 5530 Lacy Road. For more information, call (608) 264-4898.

Date Published: 02/25/2015

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