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Delay in Treatment Seen for Acute Ischemic Stroke During COVID-19

Mean interval from last-known-well time to presentation significantly longer in March 2020

patient on stretcher

WEDNESDAY, June 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A significant delay in treatment has been observed for patients with acute ischemic stroke during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online May 28 in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery.

Clemens M. Schirmer, M.D., from Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania, and colleagues examined whether there is a delay in presentation for acute ischemic stroke patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The interval between last-known-well (LKW) time and presentation was examined for presenting with acute ischemic strokes to 12 U.S. stroke centers. The timing and severity of presentation were examined for the baseline period from February to March 2019 and were compared to February to March 2020.

Three hundred twenty patients were included in the two-month baseline period in 2019, while in February 2020 (the pre-COVID-19 era), there were 227 patients compared with 163 in March 2020 (the COVID-19 period); there was a decrease in the absolute number of cases per calendar week in the COVID-19 period. The researchers found that the severity of presentation did not differ in the two time periods, and no difference in age was seen between the baseline and COVID-19 period. Compared with the baseline period, in the COVID-19 period, the mean interval from LKW to presentation was significantly longer (442 ± 435 versus 603 ± 1,035 minutes).

"Our findings indicate a dire need for public education to address COVID-19-related fears to ensure people with stroke symptoms seek the lifesaving care they need without delay," Schirmer said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical, medical device, and medical technology industries.

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