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In Frontiers in neurology

Background: COVID-19 has impacted healthcare in many ways, including presentation of acute stroke. Since time-sensitive thrombolysis is essential for reducing morbidity and mortality in acute stroke, any delays due to the pandemic can have serious consequences. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the electronic medical records for patients presenting with acute ischemic stroke at a comprehensive stroke center in March-April 2020 (the early months of COVID-19) and compared to the same time period in 2019. Stroke metrics such as incidence, time to arrival, and immediate outcomes were assessed. Results: There were 48 acute ischemic strokes (of which 7 were transfers) in March-April 2020 compared to 64 (of which 12 were transfers) in 2019. The average last known well to arrival time (±SD) for stroke codes was 1,041 (±1682.1) min in 2020 and 554 (±604.9) min in 2019. Of the patients presenting directly to the ED with a known last known well time, 27.8% (10/36) presented in the first 4.5 h in 2020, in contrast to 40.5% (15/37) in 2019. Patients who died comprised 10.4% of the stroke cohort in 2020 (5/48) compared to 6.3% in 2019 (4/64). Conclusions: During the first 2 months of COVID-19, there were fewer overall stroke cases who presented to our hospital, and of these cases, there was delayed presentation in comparison to the same time period in 2019. Recognizing how stroke presentation may be affected by COVID-19 would allow for optimization of established stroke triage algorithms in order to ensure safe and timely delivery of stroke care during a pandemic.

Nagamine Masaki, Chow Daniel S, Chang Peter D, Boden-Albala Bernadette, Yu Wengui, Soun Jennifer E


COVID-19, public health, stroke, stroke triage, thrombolytics