New tool individualizes stroke treatment

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Every second counts if you're having a stroke, yet when you arrive at the emergency room, doctors face a dilemma: whether or not to treat with the drug tPA. The drug is effective in preventing disability, but it poses the risk of bleeding.

A doctor at Saint Luke's Hospital is one of the creators of an assessment tool called RESOLVE. Dr. John Spertus said it takes just 30 seconds to put in variables such as the patient's age, blood pressure, severity of stroke symptoms and how long he or she has had symptoms. RESOLVE then provides an analysis of the risk versus benefit in giving tPA.

"This is what President Obama talks about with precision medicine. It's being able to take patients' characteristics, and given their characteristics, define what is the benefit to them of getting treated or not," Dr. Spertus said.

Saint Luke's is already using the tool. Dr. Spertus said it may be even more beneficial at outlying hospitals that see fewer stroke patients. RESOLVE was developed through an American Heart Association initiative.