China has launched its first stroke ambulance, equipped with a CT scan to screen victims of traffic accidents and stroke patients on the spot in the country’s central Henan Province. The van was assembled by a Beijing-based company specialising in medical vehicle trade and refitting. “The ambulance allows stroke patients to have their brains scanned and blood samples analysed before they are sent to hospital,” said Li Tianxiao, director of the hospital’s intervention therapy centre.
“This helps stroke patients who can’t receive treatment in time due to traffic congestion or long distances from hospitals with suitable facilities,” he said. A CT scan can distinguish strokes caused by blood clots from hemorrhagic strokes.
For patients with blood clot-related strokes, the time window to bust clots is 4.5 hours. Removing clots must be done within 6 hours after symptoms begin. Li said that even in developed countries, less than 10 percent of stroke patients are treated within this window.
Strokes are on the rise among middle-aged and younger Chinese because they tend to smoke, work under stress, and exercise less compared to older generations, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Figures released by the National Health and Family Planning Commission in 2014 showed that the average age of stroke for Chinese patients was 63 — ten years younger than for Americans. The number of stroke cases has been rising by nine per cent a year.