The decline in stroke hospitalization due to COVID-19 is unrelated to COVID-19 intensity

Sedova P, Kent JA, Bryndziar T, Jarkovsky J, Tomek A, Sramek M, Skoda O, Sramkova T, Pokorová K, Littnerova S, Brown RD Jr, Mikulik R.

Eur J Neurol. 2022 Dec 13. doi: 10.1111/ene.15664. Epub ahead of print. PMID:36511840.


6 Jan 2023

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Background and purpose: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic many countries reported a decline in stroke volumes. The aim of this study was to analyze if the decline was related to the intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: The first pandemic year (1 March 2020 to 28 February 2021) overall and during the three COVID-19 waves were compared with the preceding year. Volumes of acute ischaemic stroke (AIS), subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage and recanalization treatments (intravenous thrombolysis [IVT] and mechanical thrombectomy [MT]) were obtained from the National Register of Reimbursed Health Services. Door-to-needle time, onset-to-door time and National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale at admission were obtained from the Registry of Stroke Care Quality.

Results: During the pandemic year compared to the preceding year there were 26,453 versus 28,771 stroke admissions, representing an 8.8% decline (p < 0.001). The declines (-10%, -11%, -19%) appeared in COVID-19 waves (spring 2020, autumn 2020, winter 2021) except for an increase (2%) during summer 2020. Admissions for AIS declined by 10.2% (p < 0.001), whilst hemorrhagic stroke volumes were minimally decreased. The absolute volumes of IVT and MT decreased by 9.4% (p < 0.001) and 5.7% (p = 0.16), respectively. However, the proportions of ischaemic stroke patients receiving IVT (18% vs. 18%; p = 0.72) and MT (6% vs. 6%; p = 0.28) remained unchanged.

Conclusions: There was a decline in stroke admissions, but such decline was not related to COVID-19 incidence. The frequency of use of recanalization procedures (IVT, MT) and times (onset-to-door time, door-to-needle time) in AIS were preserved in the Czech Republic during the first year of the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; Czech Republic; intravenous thrombolysis; mechanical thrombectomy; stroke.

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