New York State Department of Health Designates First Primary Stroke Center at NYU Medical Center

April 18, 2005 (All day)

Jennifer Choi
Assistant Director, Media Relations
NYU Medical Center Public Affairs

Successful Pilot Program in Bklyn/Qns leads to First Official Designation in NY State

APRIL 18, 2005 -- The NYU Comprehensive Stroke Care Center was designated as a primary stroke center by the New York State Department of Health; a designation similar to trauma and burn centers that was created to accelerate the treatment of acute strokes. This designation is the first to be granted as part of a statewide rollout after the success of a pilot program in Brooklyn and Queens that designated a number of hospitals to become primary stroke centers. Additionally, this development results in NYU Medical Center being the first and only New York State designated primary stroke center in Manhattan.

NYU's designation signifies that any stroke patients within 20 minutes of transport will automatically be brought to NYU Medical Center by emergency medical services. Currently, only the states of New York and Massachusetts have a state designation process for primary stroke centers.

"Timing is critical when responding to patients with acute stroke," said Keith A. Siller, M.D., Medical Director of the NYU Comprehensive Stroke Care Center. "The first step in this process is to be taken to a hospital that is experienced and fully equipped to provide an accurate diagnosis and rapid treatment for this devastating medical emergency. We are honored to receive this designation and are confident it will help further our efforts to reduce permanent disability and save lives."

A stroke is an interruption of blood supply to the brain due to a clot or leakage of a blood vessel into the brain. Current treatment for strokes include clot busting rt-PA (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator). This medication is most effective when administered within 3 hours of the onset of symptoms. Unfortunately, according to the American Stroke Association, less than 5 percent of those who suffer a stroke reach the hospital in time to be considered for this treatment. By designating selected hospitals as primary stroke centers, the hope is to significantly increase the number of patients getting to experienced medical centers where rt-PA can be administered promptly. (See tips below on how to recognize a stroke.)

Swift treatment could greatly impact patient outcomes saving the patient from substantial disability and even death. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the U.S. Fifty percent of stroke victims will have some type of one-sided paralysis. Thirty percent are unable to walk without some assistance. According to a report issued by New York State Department of Health, close to 23,000 people were hospitalized due to stroke in New York City in 2000.

Some of the requirements to become a New York State designated primary stroke center include the establishment of a qualified stroke team, round-the-clock capacity to perform CT scans with qualified physician interpretations, round-the-clock laboratory services, and the ability to provide neurosurgical procedures and evaluation quickly if deemed necessary.

The NYU Comprehensive Stroke Care Center utilizes the latest state-of-the-art facilities, equipment, and patient management practices that will allow for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients. These facilities include a multi-slice CT perfusion scanner in the Emergency Department that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The center also includes stroke rehabilitation services at Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine which was rated as the best rehabilitation institution in New York City by U.S. News and World Report. Additionally, the University HealthSystem Consortium recently sponsored a benchmarking project for stroke, and selected NYU Medical Center, among the 32 academic medical centers that participated, as one of the top 3 performers, based on evidence of comprehensive delivery of quality care.

How to Recognize a Stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

(Source: Brain Attack Coalition: