Board with the inscription "Stroke Unit

Stroke Unit Registry
A success story turns 20!

What once begun with the opening of the first stroke unit became 20 years later, an Austrian-wide success story.

Almost 40 stroke units were built within the last 20 years. These special stroke treating departments treat patients competently, immediately after hospitalization and successfully.

Globally, one in four persons will suffer from a stroke within a lifetime, in Austria about 25.000 persons are affected annually. The overwhelming majority will have an ischemic stroke, a much smaller percentage a hemorrhagic stroke. Every stroke is an emergency which needs to be treated as quickly as possible. “Time is brain” is the used dictum amongst stroke experts, expressing that every second counts. The faster a patient is taken care of stroke-specifically, the lower the amount of brain cells which might die due this medical emergency. Time has a special meaning for these patients, especially when considering longtime impairment

The first specialized department for the acute treatment of stroke was opened by Prof Dr. Michael Brainin at the University Hospital Tulln and became exemplary for optimized stroke care. Nowadays Austria has a nationwide coverage for stroke patients with specific stroke unit beds. In these stroke units patients are also treated with thrombolysis therapy which aims to dissolve the blood clot and has to be administered within 4.5 hours after stroke onset.

At the stroke unit it will also be decided if the blood clot is too large for pharmacological lysis but might qualify for thrombectomy. If this treatment is used, a catheter is guided from the groin artery to the affected brain vessel. At the site of occlusion, the catheter opens a fine mesh that catches blood clot pieces which will then be suctioned out of the brain.

Austria has developed one of the leading stroke unit networks globally and simultaneously also introduced its own stroke registry, analyzing for scientific purposes all relevant medical data related to stroke, which can be obtained during the treatment period of the patients. With the help of the registry data more than 30 publications could be edited nationally and internationally

The Austrian Stroke Registry is located in the Ministry of Health which asked the Health Austria Ltd to mange it. The scientific collaboration is organized between the Austrian Stroke Society, the Danube-University Krems and the Austrian Federal Institute for Health. In September 2022 the Austrian Stroke Registry celebrated its 20 year Anniversary, a large contributor to the impressive success story of Austria’s stroke care system.

Autor: Prim. Dr. Andreas Winkler, MSc