Nicte Mejia, MDBy AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Acute ischemic stroke patients who didn’t speak English well were still properly treated with clot busters despite the language barrier, according to research that was published Wednesday on the American Heart Association journal website Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality & Outcomes.

The research was originally scheduled to be released as part of the Quality of Care and Outcomes Research 2015 Scientific Sessions, which was cancelled due to violent protests in the city of Baltimore.

Researchers studied information on nearly 3,900 acute ischemic stroke patients who took part in the Get With The Guidelines Stroke program at Massachusetts General Hospital from 2003 to 2014. More than 9 percent of the patients primarily spoke a language other than English (representing 25 languages) and were noted as having limited English proficiency.


Researchers found patients with limited English proficiency were more likely to receive the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator than patients who spoke English. They attributed this primarily to the fact that language barrier patients experienced more severe strokes.

This study emphasizes the importance of routinely using standardized measure of care to help identify patients who could benefit from receiving tPA, regardless of their cultural backgrounds or their ability to communicate with clinicians in a common language, researchers said.

Furthermore, the researchers emphasized the importance of consistently including professional medical interpreters to contribute to excellent stroke care for people with limited English proficiency.