We examined the benefit of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), delivered as part of usual stroke management, on patient-reported outcomes and health care utilization. Using a case control design, patients who received tPA as part of usual stroke management were compared with patients who would have received tPA had they arrived to the hospital within the therapeutic time window. Data were collected from surveys 6 months after stroke using standardized patient-reported outcome measures and questions about health care utilization. Demographic and medical data were acquired from hospital records. Patients were matched on stroke severity, age, race, and gender. Matching was done with 1:2 ratio of tPA to controls. Results were compared between groups with 1-tailed tests because of a directionally specific hypothesis in favor of the tPA group. The tPA (n = 78) and control (n = 156) groups were matched across variables, except for stroke severity, which was better in the control group; subsequent analyses controlled for this mismatch. The tPA group reported better physical function, communication, cognitive ability, depressive symptomatology, and quality of life/participation compared with the control group. Fewer people in the tPA group reported skilled nursing facility stays, emergency department visits, and rehospitalizations after their stroke compared with controls. Reports of other postacute services were not different between groups. Although it is known that tPA reduces disability, this is the first study to demonstrate the effectiveness of tPA in improving meaningful, patientreported outcomes. Thus, use of tPA provides a large benefit to the daily lives of people with ischemic stroke.
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