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Racial Disparities in Stroke Medication and Surgical Procedures Found in New UGA Study

Robert Smith of Nashville listens to his long-time physician, Dr. Vladimir Berthaud of Meharry Medical College, explain the importance of Black patients participating in clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine. Berthaud is leading the project at the historically black medical school.
Blake Farmer/ WPLN
Robert Smith of Nashville listens to his long-time physician, Dr. Vladimir Berthaud of Meharry Medical College, explain the importance of Black patients participating in clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine. Berthaud is leading the project at the historically black medical school.

Almost 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, with Black Americans and other people of color facing a substantially higher risk of experiencing a fatal stroke than their white counterparts. A recent study conducted by the University of Georgia reveals racial disparities in the treatment of stroke patients that may be contributing to these alarming outcomes.

The research examined over 89,000 stroke cases across the United States to find that Black patients are less likely to receive critical stroke treatments such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a blood clot-busting medication, and the blood clot removing surgical procedure endovascular thrombectomy (EVT).

TPA and EVT are the go-to medical treatments for ischemic strokes, but both options are extremely time-sensitive.

Black and minority stroke patients experience longer wait times to see medical professionals, which according to lead author Delaney Metcalf could be attributed to implicit racial biases or more simply the inadequate staffing and resources of hospitals in underserved areas, resulting in lethal consequences.

Published in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, the study, co-authored by Donglan Zhang, stresses the necessity of increasing community education on stroke symptoms and providing crucial training and technology to underserved areas to improve Black and minorities' access to stroke care.

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