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Role of the acute stroke unit

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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An acute unit is an integrated medical ward with special skills in the management of acute stroke. The main activities on the unit are:

  • investigation of the stroke:
    • ECG
    • echocardiography
    • carotid doppler scanning
    • CT scanning

  • prevention of complications:
    • swallowing assessment and prevention of aspiration
    • compression stockings and low dose heparing

  • secondary prevention:
    • aspirin
    • warfarin
    • carotid endarterectomy
    • lipid lowering therapy

  • nursing care

  • rehabilitation

There is no strong data to indicate that the acute stroke unit reduces mortality however historical comparisons suggest that:

  • length of stay in hospital is reduced
  • secondary prevention is more thorough
  • therapists are involved earlier for rehabilitation

Typically patients are moved to a stroke rehabilitation unit after 1-2 weeks.


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