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We reviewed stroke care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic at our stroke center and provincial telestroke system. We counted referrals to our prevention clinic, code strokes, thrombolysis, endovascular thrombectomies, and activations of a provincial telestroke system from February to April of 2017–2020. In April 2020, there was 28% reduction in prevention clinic referrals, 32% reduction in code strokes, and 26% reduction in telestroke activations compared to prior years. Thrombolysis and endovascular thrombectomy rates remained constant. Fewer patients received stroke services across the spectrum from prevention, acute care to telestroke care in Ontario, Canada, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The optimal timing of anticoagulation after ischemic stroke in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients is unknown. Our aim was to demonstrate the feasibility and safety of initiating dabigatran therapy within 14 days of transient ischemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke in AF patients.
Patients and Methods:
A prospective, multi-center registry (NCT02415855) in patients with AF treated with dabigatran within 14 days of acute ischemic stroke/TIA (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) ≤ 3) onset. Baseline and follow-up computed tomography (CT) scans were assessed for hemorrhagic transformation (HT) and graded by using European Cooperative Acute Stroke Study criteria.
One hundred and one patients, with a mean age of 72.4 ± 11.5 years, were enrolled. Median infarct volume was 0 ml. Median time from index event onset to dabigatran initiation was 2 days, and median baseline NIHSS was 1. Pre-treatment HT was present in seven patients. No patients developed symptomatic HT. On the day 7 CT scan, HT was present in six patients (one progressing from baseline hemorrhagic infarction type 1). Infarct volume was a predictor of incident HT (odds ratio = 1.063 [1.020–1.107], p < 0.003). All six (100%) patients with new/progressive HT were functionally independent (modified Rankin Scale (mRS) = 0–2) at 30 days, which was similar to those without HT (90%, p = 0.422). Recurrent ischemic events occurred within 30 days in four patients, two of which were associated with severe disability and death (mRS 5 and 6, respectively).
Early dabigatran treatment did not precipitate symptomatic HT after minor stroke. Asymptomatic HT was associated with larger baseline infarct volumes. Early recurrent ischemic events may be clinically more important.
Background: For optimal stroke prevention, best practices guidelines recommend carotid endarterectomy (CEA) for symptomatic patients within two weeks; however, 2013 Ontario data indicated that only 9% of eligible patients from outpatient Stroke Prevention Clinics (SPCs) achieved this target. The goal of our study was to identify modifiable system factors that could enhance the quality and timeliness of care among patients needing urgent CEA. Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of transient ischemic attack/stroke patients assessed in Champlain Local Health Integrated Network SPCs between 2011 and 2014 who subsequently underwent CEA. Descriptive statistics were used to define patient characteristics, timelines from symptom onset to CEA, and system factors that contributed to delays or improvements in care. Multivariate analysis was used to determine statistically significant variations between groups. Results: Seventy-five records were eligible for study inclusion. Median time from initial symptoms to CEA was 31 days, with 21.3% of patients undergoing surgery within 2 weeks. Significant delays were common in patient presentation and assessment following symptom onset, wait times for vascular imaging and neurological assessment, and time from surgical assessment to CEA completion. Rapid testing and triage, coupled with collaborative initiatives among SPC, surgical, and radiology teams were associated with significantly improved timelines. Conclusions: Success factors for rapid CEA are multifaceted, including system changes that address public awareness of stroke and 911 response, improvements in vascular imaging access, and redesign of clinical services to promote collaboration and fast-tracking of care. Implementation of performance measures to monitor and guide clinical innovations is recommended.
Although intravenous thrombolysis increases the probability of a good
functional outcome in carefully selected patients with acute ischemic
stroke, a substantial proportion of patients who receive thrombolysis do not
have a good outcome. Several recent trials of mechanical thrombectomy appear
to indicate that this treatment may be superior to thrombolysis. We
therefore conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the
clinical effectiveness and safety of new-generation mechanical thrombectomy
devices with intravenous thrombolysis (if eligible) compared with
intravenous thrombolysis (if eligible) in patients with acute ischemic
stroke caused by a proximal intracranial occlusion. We systematically
searched seven databases for randomized controlled trials published between
January 2005 and March 2015 comparing stent retrievers or thromboaspiration
devices with best medical therapy (with or without intravenous thrombolysis)
in adults with acute ischemic stroke. We assessed risk of bias and overall
quality of the included trials. We combined the data using a fixed or random
effects meta-analysis, where appropriate. We identified 1579 studies; of
these, we evaluated 122 full-text papers and included five randomized
control trials (n=1287). Compared with patients treated medically, patients
who received mechanical thrombectomy were more likely to be functionally
independent as measured by a modified Rankin score of 0-2 (odds ratio, 2.39;
95% confidence interval, 1.88-3.04; I2=0%). This finding was
robust to subgroup analysis. Mortality and symptomatic intracerebral
hemorrhage were not significantly different between the two groups.
Mechanical thrombectomy significantly improves functional independence in
appropriately selected patients with acute ischemic stroke.
A cardiac source is often implicated in strokes where the deficit includes aphasia. However, less is known about the etiology of isolated aphasia during transient ischemic attack (TIA). Our objective was to determine whether patients with isolated aphasia are likely to have a cardioembolic etiology for their TIA.
We prospectively studied a cohort of TIA patients in eight tertiary-care emergency departments. Patients with isolated aphasia were identified by the treating physician at the time of emergency department presentation. Patients with dysarthria (i.e., a phonation disturbance) were not included. Potential cardiac sources for embolism were defined as atrial fibrillation on history, electrocardiogram, Holter monitor, atrial fibrillation on echocardiography, or thrombus on echocardiography.
Of the 2,360 TIA patients identified, 1,155 had neurological deficits at the time of the emergency physician assessment and were included in this analysis, and 41 had isolated aphasia as their only neurological deficit. Patients with isolated aphasia were older (73.9±10.0 v. 67.2±14.5 years; p=0.003), more likely to have a history of heart failure (9.8% v. 2.6%; p=0.027), and were twice as likely to have any cardiac source of embolism (22.0% v. 10.6%; p=0.037).
Isolated aphasia is associated with a high rate of cardioembolic sources of embolism after TIA. Emergency patients with isolated aphasia diagnosed with a TIA warrant a rapid and thorough assessment for a cardioembolic source.