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BC paramedics aim to improve stroke care with new drug trial

BCEHS has begun a drug trial that could drastically improve the quality of life for stroke patients.
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Paramedics in Vancouver and Richmond have joined their colleagues in Toronto and Peel in administering a clinical study drug for stroke called NA-1, a neuroprotectant designed to contain the damage to the brain in the event of a stroke. 

Eligible stroke patients will be given NA-1 or a placebo as part of a new 558-patient randomized trial. Results of this trial may help inform the role of early interventions by paramedics in stroke care in the future.

"We are very excited by the promise of this trial," said Pam Ramsay, Interim Executive Director, Cardiac Services BC & Provincial Director, Stroke Services BC. "During a stroke, every minute counts. If this breakthrough means a reduction in the devastating impact of stroke while patients are being transported to hospital, it will be revolutionary for stroke patients."

A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function due to interrupted or severely reduced blood supply. This study will compare outcomes when paramedics give either NA-1 or a placebo to patients while transporting patients to the closest stroke centre. Once in hospital, patients will receive standard care for strokes.

Participant consent is required before a product is delivered in most clinical trials. However, given the immediate nature of emergency stroke care, the consent process has been deferred to the in-hospital setting once the medical emergency is resolved. This deferred consent process has been approved by Health Canada and the Research Ethics Boards at the centres participating in this trial. Paramedics administer the drug or placebo to eligible patients in consultation with an emergency department physician. 

"BCEHS employees are at the frontline of the health care system and the forefront of ground-breaking medical research," said Dr. William Dick, BCEHS Vice-President, Medical Programs. "We hope that this drug will one day reduce the often disabling impact of stroke and help stroke sufferers fully recover."

In BC, the FRONTIER trial is coordinated by the BC Prehospital Resuscitation Research office at Providence Health Care Research Institute. Overall study coordination is based out of St Michael's Hospital in Toronto. The FRONTIER trial is supported by a Multi-Investigator Research Initiative grant from the ​Brain Canada Foundation and sponsored by NoNO Inc. For complete study details, please visit the FRONTIER trial website.

Quick facts

  • Almost two million brain cells die every minute after a stroke.
  • Stroke is the most significant cause of neurological disability and death worldwide. It affects 62,000 Canadians and kills more than 11,000 annually.
  • Stroke is the number one cause of acquired long-term disability and third leading cause of death in BC.
  • In 2014, BCEHS paramedics responded to 9,875 reported strokes.
  • Approximately 68 per cent of stroke patients arrive at hospitals via ambulance. 

BC​ Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) is responsible for the delivery and governance of pre-hospital emergency medical care and inter-facility patient transfer services through the BC Ambulance Service and the BC Patient Transfer Network. BCEHS is supported by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA).

Stroke Services BC is a program of the Provincial Health Services Authority that supports evidence-based stroke care leading to fewer strokes, world-class stroke care and the best possible outcomes for stroke patients in BC.​

Media contact

​Preet Grewal
BC Emergency Health Services
250-356-0049 or 604-871-5699 (PHSA Media Pager)​

 
 
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