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It is unknown if the COVID-19 pandemic and public health measures had an immediate impact on stroke subtypes and etiologies in patients not infected with COVID-19. We aimed to evaluate if the proportion of non-COVID-19-related stroke subtypes (ischemic vs. hemorrhagic) and etiologies (cardioembolic, atherosclerosis, small vessel disease, and others) during the pandemic’s first wave were different from prepandemic.
For this retrospective cohort study, we included patients without COVID-19 with ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke at two large Canadian stroke centers between March–May 2019 (prepandemic cohort) and March–May 2020 (pandemic cohort). Proportions of stroke subtypes and etiologies were compared between cohorts using chi-square tests.
The prepandemic cohort consisted of 234 stroke patients and the pandemic cohort of 207 stroke patients. There were no major differences in baseline characteristics. The proportions of ischemic versus hemorrhagic stroke were similar (ischemic stroke: 77% prepandemic vs. 75% pandemic; hemorrhagic stroke:12% prepandemic vs. 14% pandemic; p > 0.05). There were no differences in etiologies, except for a decreased proportion of ischemic stroke due to atherosclerosis in the pandemic cohort (26% prepandemic vs. 15% pandemic; difference: 10.6%, 95%CI: 1.4-19.7; p = 0.03). Notably, during the pandemic, the cause of ischemic stroke was more often unknown because of incomplete work-up (13.3% prepandemic vs. 28.2% pandemic, difference: 14.9%, 95%-CI: 5.7–24.2; p = <0.01).
In this study, the pandemic had no clear effect on stroke subtypes and etiologies suggesting a limited impact of the pandemic on stroke triggers. However, the shift from atherosclerosis toward other causes warrants further exploration.
Sex disparities have been reported across many aspects of acute ischemic stroke (AIS) care; however, there is a relative paucity of research examining sex differences in outcomes following endovascular treatment (EVT). Some studies report worse functional independence for females following EVT. Few, if any of these studies account for differences in age, baseline function, and comorbidity burden. This retrospective cohort study aimed to assess for sex differences in functional outcomes following EVT by comparing 90-day modified Rankin Scale (mRS) of males and females while controlling for baseline function and comorbidity burden.
Baseline demographic and clinical data, and stroke severity were compared for 230 consecutive patients undergoing EVT for AIS between October 2014 and July 2019 at a tertiary stroke centre in Toronto, Canada. Effect of sex on likelihood of functional independence post-EVT was assessed using regression analysis with and without correction for age, baseline mRS, and Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI).
Females undergoing EVT for AIS were older (75 ± 13 vs. 66 ± 15, p < 0.0001), with worse clinical and functional baselines. Unadjusted, males were more functionally independent (90-day mRS < 3) [OR = 1.831, 95%CI 1.082–3.098]. After controlling for age, baseline mRS and CCI, there was no difference between groups [OR 1.21, 95%CI 0.61–2.37].
This study provides evidence that prior findings of sex disparities in function after EVT may be accounted for by differences in age, baseline clinical status and functional independence between males and females when a comprehensive measure of comorbidity burden is utilized.
We investigated the impact of regionally imposed social and healthcare restrictions due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to the time metrics in the management of acute ischemic stroke patients admitted at the regional stroke referral site for Central South Ontario, Canada.
We compared relevant time metrics between patients with acute ischemic stroke receiving intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and/or endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) before and after the declared restrictions and state of emergency imposed in our region (March 17, 2020).
We identified a significant increase in the median door-to-CT times for patients receiving intravenous tPA (19 min, interquartile range (IQR): 14–27 min vs. 13 min, IQR: 9–17 min, p = 0.008) and/or EVT (20 min, IQR: 15–33 min vs. 11 min, IQR: 5–20 min, p = 0.035) after the start of social and healthcare restrictions in our region compared to the previous 12 months. For patients receiving intravenous tPA treatment, we also found a significant increase (p = 0.005) in the median door-to-needle time (61 min, IQR: 46–72 min vs. 37 min, IQR: 30–50 min). No delays in the time from symptom onset to hospital presentation were uncovered for patients receiving tPA and/or endovascular reperfusion treatments in the first 1.5 months after the establishment of regional and institutional restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We detected an increase in our institutional time to treatment metrics for acute ischemic stroke patients receiving tPA and/or endovascular reperfusion therapies, related to delays from hospital presentation to the acquisition of cranial CT imaging for both tPA- and EVT-treated patients, and an added delay to treatment with tPA.