For stroke victims, time is a matter of life and death, and a new LA-based pilot program may help them to start getting treatment faster, NBC4 media partner KPCC reports.
The program, being tested in Westwood, San Pedro and Long Beach, sets up modified ambulances with mobile CT scanners that will help health professionals diagnose and start treating stroke victims on the way to the hospital.
Research has shown that when the brain is deprived of oxygen during a stroke, about 2 million neurons die per minute, and experts say it's crucial that treatment begins within the first hour of the attack's onset. Faster care could help patients avoid permanent damage or incapacitation.
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UCLA Health's Arline and Henry Gluck Mobile Stroke Rescue Program is overseeing the pilot program, which is the first of its kind to take hold on the West Coast.
It was originally funded entirely by private donations as part of a national study on improving treatment for stroke victims, but the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently supplemented the program's budget with $1.5 million to allow it to run another year and expand it to San Pedro and Long Beach.
"We're hoping that if people can be reached sooner and diagnosed, and then treated appropriately at the right hospital, that they would be able to walk out of the hospital," said Supervisor Janice Hahn to KPCC.