Quality and Outcomes
UC San Diego Health System is the only Comprehensive Stroke Center in San Diego County.
The Stroke Center at UC San Diego Health System earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval in 2004 and became the first primary stroke center in San Diego County. In 2012, we became one of the first five medical centers in the nation to achieve The Joint Commission's Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification. This certification reflects our ability to provide the most advanced treatments to patients with the most serious types of strokes. Our combined primary and comprehensive stroke certifications demonstrate that UC San Diego Health System provides the full complement of available services and technologies to meet the needs of stroke patients, while complying with national standards that improve patient outcomes.
Types of Strokes Treated at UC San Diego Health System
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is reduced or interrupted by a blood clot or a hemorrhage. This deprives the brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients, and causes brain cells to begin dying. UC San Diego is prepared to handle all types of stroke with advanced diagnostics and treatments.
Ischemic stroke: Occurs when blood vessels are blocked by a clot. The clot can be a thrombus, a clot that forms at the site of the blockage, or an embolus, a clot that has moved from another part of the body and has become lodged in a blood vessel that feeds the brain.
Hemorrhagic stroke: Occurs as a result of a rupture or perforation of blood vessels in the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes can be caused by longstanding arterial hypertension, aneurysms caused by a weakened blood vessel wall, trauma, drug abuse or malformations of the blood vessels. Subarachnoid hemorrhages involve bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain. Intracerebral hemorrhage is a type of stroke caused by bleeding within the brain tissue itself.
Transient ischemic attacks (TIA): Sometimes called a “mini-stroke," a TIA is a warning sign of the potential for a future stroke. A TIA may last only a few minutes, or up to 24 hours. TIA occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is briefly interrupted. Symptoms are similar to those of a stroke but do not last as long.
The chart below compares the percentage of patients treated for each type of stroke at UC San Diego Health System and locally in San Diego County. Because UC San Diego Health System has the ability to perform advanced procedures, we care for a greater percentage of hemorrhagic stroke patients in the county.
Advanced Treatments for Stroke at UC San Diego Health System
Regardless of the type of stroke, UC San Diego Health System is ready 24 hours a day seven days a week providing an immediate response from a team of specialty-trained experts when a stroke patient arrives.
The specialists at our Stroke Center are internationally recognized as leaders and experts in the fields of research, diagnosis and care. Read more about our stroke team.
Timely Treatment for Ischemic Stroke
Discovered at UC San Diego in 1985, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a powerful drug used to dissolve blood clots that cause ischemic strokes. The drug is usually given through a vein in the arm. To be effective, the drug must be given within three hours, and in selected individuals, within 4.5 hours after a stroke.
The chart below demonstrates a marked improvement in UC San Diego Health System’s timely administration of tPA over the years and in staying below the 60 minutes target. We believe that “time is brain!” Read more about treatment of ischemic stroke at UC San Diego Health System.
Successful Surgical Treatment of Stroke
UC San Diego Health System is a leader in endovascular and surgical treatment of stroke, using specially-designed instruments to remove blood clots and restore blood flow to the brain. UC San Diego faculty trains physicians nationally and internationally in these techniques and participates in leading interventional clinical trials.
Beyond the acute treatment of stroke, surgeons at UC San Diego Health System offer carotid endarterectomy, carotid stenting, extracranial-intracranial bypass and intracranial interventions for secondary prevention. From July 2012 through June 2013, we performed 21 endovascular coiling or surgical clipping procedures to treat unruptured brain aneurysms, with a 90.5% survival rate. Read more about our Stroke and Neurovascular Surgery Program.
Processes of Care
Regardless of the type of stroke, UC San Diego patients receive the right care. We closely monitor compliance with processes of care as endorsed by The Joint Commission and American Heart Association. The chart below shows that UC San Diego Health System continues to provide consistent care across all measures compared to other hospitals throughout the country.
Of patients admitted to UC San Diego Health System following an ischemic stroke, 96 percent survived while in the hospital. A higher percentage of patients treated at UC San Diego Health System had hemorrhagic strokes compared to patients receiving care at other San Diego County hospitals. Roughly 25 percent of stroke patients treated at UC San Diego Health System had hemorrhagic strokes, while only 19 percent of strokes in the county are hemorrhagic. The chart below demonstrates the excellent survival of our patients for both inpatient ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, compared to other academic hospitals who participate in University HealthSystem Consortium.