Importance The effectiveness of intravenous thrombolysis in acute ischemic stroke is time dependent. The effects are likely to be highest if the time from symptom onset to treatment is within 60 minutes, termed the golden hour.
Objective To determine the achievable rate of golden hour thrombolysis in prehospital care and its effect on outcome.
Design, Setting, and Participants The prospective controlled Prehospital Acute Neurological Treatment and Optimization of Medical Care in Stroke study was conducted in Berlin, Germany, within an established infrastructure for stroke care. Weeks were randomized according to the availability of a specialized ambulance (stroke emergency mobile unit (STEMO) from May 1, 2011, through January 31, 2013. We included 6182 consecutive adult patients for whom a stroke dispatch (44.1% male; mean [SD] age, 73.9 [15.0] years) or regular care (45.0% male; mean [SD] age, 74.2 [14.9] years) were included.
Interventions The STEMO was deployed when the dispatchers suspected an acute stroke during emergency calls. If STEMO was not available (during control weeks, when the unit was already in operation, or during maintenance), patients received conventional care. The STEMO is equipped with a computed tomographic scanner plus a point-of-care laboratory and telemedicine connection. The unit is staffed with a neurologist trained in emergency medicine, a paramedic, and a technician. Thrombolysis was started in STEMO if a stroke was confirmed and no contraindication was found.
Main Outcomes and Measures Rates of golden hour thrombolysis, 7- and 90-day mortality, secondary intracerebral hemorrhage, and discharge home.
Results Thrombolysis rates in ischemic stroke were 200 of 614 patients (32.6%) when STEMO was deployed and 330 of 1497 patients (22.0%) when conventional care was administered (P < .001). Among all patients who received thrombolysis, the proportion of golden hour thrombolysis was 6-fold higher after STEMO deployment (62 of 200 patients [31.0%] vs 16 of 330 [4.9%]; P < .01). Compared with patients with a longer time from symptom onset to treatment, patients who received golden hour thrombolysis had no higher risks for 7- or 90-day mortality (adjusted odds ratios, 0.38 [95% CI, 0.09-1.70]; P = .21 and 0.69 [95% CI, 0.32-1.53]; P = .36) and were more likely to be discharged home (adjusted odds ratio, 1.93 [95% CI, 1.09-3.41]; P = .02).
Conclusions and Relevance The use of STEMO increases the percentage of patients receiving thrombolysis within the golden hour. Golden hour thrombolysis entails no risk to the patients’ safety and is associated with better short-term outcomes.