• Exploring the Collateral Damage of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Stroke Care: A Statewide Analysis

      Balucani, Clotilde; Carhuapoma, J Ricardo; Canner, Joseph K; Faigle, Roland; Johnson, Brenda; Aycock, Anna; Phipps, Michael S; Schrier, Chad; Yarbrough, Karen; Toral, Linda; et al. (Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2021-03-11)
      Background and Purpose: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the various emergency measures implemented to contain the spread of the virus and to overcome the volume of affected patients presenting to hospitals may have had unintended consequences. Several studies reported a decrease in the number of stroke admissions. There are no data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on stroke admissions and stroke care in Maryland. Methods: A retrospective analysis of quality improvement data reported by stroke centers in the State of Maryland. The number of admissions for stroke, overall and by stroke subtype, between March 1 and September 30, 2020 (pandemic) were compared with the same time period in 2019 (prepandemic). Median last known well to hospital arrival time, the number of intravenous thrombolysis and thrombectomy were also compared. Results: During the initial 7 months of the pandemic, there were 6529 total admissions for stroke and transient ischemic attack, monthly mean 938 (95% CI, 837.1-1038.9) versus prepandemic 8003, monthly mean 1156.3 (CI, 1121.3-1191.2), P<0.001. A significant decrease was observed in intravenous thrombolysis treatments, pandemic 617, monthly mean 88.1 (80.7-95.6) versus prepandemic 805, monthly mean 115 (CI, 104.3-125.6), P<0.001; there was no significant decrease for thrombectomies. The pandemic decreased the probability of admissions for stroke and transient ischemic attack by 19%, for acute ischemic stroke by 20%, for the number of intravenous thrombolysis performed by 23%. There was no difference in the number of admissions for subarachnoid hemorrhage, pandemic 199, monthly mean 28.4 (CI, 22.5-34.3) versus prepandemic 217, monthly mean 31 (CI, 23.9-38.1), respectively, P=0.507. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected the acute care of unrelated cerebrovascular emergencies.