The latest clinical guidelines for stroke management are now available covering the continuum of stroke care from acute to community-based support.
The revised guidelines were developed over two years and involved 100 health professionals and researchers across 21 healthcare disciplines.
The Stroke Foundation said more than 109,000 research abstracts were reviewed from Australia and internationally as part of the project to update the guidelines.
The best practice guidelines were launched by the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt to coincide with National Stroke Week (4-10 September).
The final guidelines include 250 recommendations for stroke treatment and care across the healthcare continuum; starting in the ambulance and progressing through hospital, rehabilitation and the transition home.
Stroke Foundation CEO Sharon McGowan said the updated guidelines were critical to delivering best practice treatment and care to all stroke patients.
“We now know what ideal stroke treatment and care looks like. We must focus on giving all patients access to it, in particular those living in regional Australia where stroke is having its greatest impact,” she said.
Stroke Foundation clinical council chair Associate Professor Bruce Campbell said the guidelines would also be available for easy access on smartphone, tablet and desktop devices.
“Evidence-based clinical guidelines are key to establishing effective, high-quality, consistent and safe healthcare practices and policies,’’ Associate Professor Campbell said.
Key changes to the guidelines include:
- Education of GP reception staff in the FAST signs of stroke so that they call triple zero immediately at the first sign of a stroke
- It is no longer recommended to get patients up and moving within 24 hours of stroke onset, however all stroke patients should be moving within 48 hours
- All acute stroke services should implement standard protocols to manage fever, glucose and swallowing difficulties in stroke patients. Managing these early has shown improved outcomes for stroke patients up to four years after their stroke
- Endovascular thrombectomy – or clot retrieval – is now standard care for appropriate patients
- The minimum amount of scheduled rehabilitation therapy for stroke survivors is now three hours a day – a threefold increase from the previous guidelines
- Comprehensive discharge care plans that address the specific needs of the stroke survivor should be developed in conjunction with the patient and carer prior to discharge
Ms McGowan said the first step in ensuring all Australians have access to worldclass stroke treatment was to educate every household on the signs of stroke and to call triple zero.
FAST stands for:
• Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
• Arms – Can they lift both arms?
• Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
• Time is critical. If you see any of these symptoms Act FAST and call 000 immediately.