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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The reduction of delay between onset and hospital arrival and adequate pre-hospital care of persons with acute stroke are important for improving the chances of a favourable outcome. The objective is to recommend evidence-based practices for the management of patients with suspected stroke in the pre-hospital setting. METHODS: The GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) methodology was used to define the key clinical questions. An expert panel then reviewed the literature, established the quality of the evidence, and made recommendations. RESULTS: Despite very low quality of evidence educational campaigns to increase the awareness of immediately calling emergency medical services are strongly recommended. Moderate quality evidence was found to support strong recommendations for the training of emergency medical personnel in recognizing the symptoms of a stroke and in implementation of a pre-hospital 'code stroke' including highest priority dispatch, pre-hospital notification and rapid transfer to the closest 'stroke-ready' centre. Insufficient evidence was found to recommend a pre-hospital stroke scale to predict large vessel occlusion. Despite the very low quality of evidence, restoring normoxia in patients with hypoxia is recommended, and blood pressure lowering drugs and treating hyperglycaemia with insulin should be avoided. There is insufficient evidence to recommend the routine use of mobile stroke units delivering intravenous thrombolysis at the scene. Because only feasibility studies have been reported, no recommendations can be provided for pre-hospital telemedicine during ambulance transport. CONCLUSIONS: These guidelines inform on the contemporary approach to patients with suspected stroke in the pre-hospital setting. Further studies, preferably randomized controlled trials, are required to examine the impact of particular interventions on quality parameters and outcome.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Neurol

Publication Date





425 - 433


ambulance, pre-hospital care, stroke, Consensus, Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Medical Technicians, Humans, Neurology, Stroke