Community Intent to Activate Emergency Medical Services May Be Associated with Regional tPA Treatment

Mellanie V. Springer*, Ran Bi, Lesli E. Skolarus, Chun Chieh Lin, James F. Burke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Acute stroke treatments are underutilized in the USA. Enhancing stroke preparedness, the recognition of stroke symptoms, and intent to call emergency medical services (EMS) could reduce delay in hospital arrival thereby increasing eligibility for time-sensitive stroke treatments. Whether higher stroke preparedness is associated with higher tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) treatment rates is however uncertain. We therefore set out to determine the contribution of stroke preparedness to regional variation in tPA treatment. Methods: The region was defined by hospital service area (HSA). Stroke preparedness was determined by using Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey questions assessing stroke symptom recognition and intent to call 911 in response to a stroke. We used Medicare data to determine the percentage of tPA-treated hospitalized stroke patients in 2007, 2009, and 2011, adjusting for number of stroke hospitalizations in each HSA (primary outcome). We performed multivariate linear regression to estimate the association of regional stroke preparedness on log-transformed tPA treatment rates controlling for demographic, EMS, and hospital characteristics. Results: The adjusted percentage of stroke patients receiving tPA ranged from 1.4% (MIN) to 11.3% (MAX) of stroke/TIA hospitalizations. Across HSAs, a median (IQR) of 86% (81-90%) of responses to a witnessed stroke indicated intent to call 911, and a median (IQR) of 4.4 (4.2-4.6) out of 6 stroke symptoms was recognized. Every 1% increase in an HSA's intent to call 911 was associated with a 0.44% increase in adjusted tPA treatment rate (p = 0.05). Lower accuracy of recognition of stroke symptoms was associated with higher adjusted tPA treatment rates (p = 0.05). Conclusions: There was little regional variation in intent to call EMS and stroke symptom recognition. Intent to call EMS and stroke symptom recognition are modest contributors to regional variation in tPA treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-213
Number of pages7
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Ischemic stroke
  • Stroke preparedness
  • Stroke treatment
  • Tissue plasminogen activator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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