• Patient Characteristics and Outcomes Associated with Decline in Stroke Volumes During the Early COVID-19 Pandemic

      Wallace, Adam N.; Asif, Kaiz S.; Sahlein, Daniel H.; Warach, Steven J.; Malisch, Timothy; LaFranchise, E. Francis; Geraghty, Scott; Kreitel, K. Derek; LaMonte, Marian P.; Miley, Jefferson T.; et al. (Elsevier Inc., 2020-12-26)
      Background and Purpose: Delayed evaluation of stroke may contribute to COVID-19 pandemic-related morbidity and mortality. This study evaluated patient characteristics, process measures and outcomes associated with the decline in stroke presentation during the early pandemic. Methods: Volumes of stroke presentations, intravenous thrombolytic administrations, and mechanical thrombectomies from 52 hospitals from January 1-June 30, 2020 were analyzed with piecewise linear regression and linear spline models. Univariate analysis compared pandemic (case) and pre-pandemic (control) groups defined in relation to the nadir of daily strokes during the study period. Significantly different patient characteristics were further evaluated with logistic regression, and significantly different process measures and outcomes were re-analyzed after propensity score matching. Results: Analysis of 7,389 patients found daily stroke volumes decreased 0.91/day from March 12–26 (p < 0.0001), reaching a nadir 35.0% less than expected, and increased 0.15 strokes/day from March 27-June 23, 2020 (p < 0.0001). Intravenous thrombolytic administrations decreased 3.3/week from February 19-March 31 (p = 0.0023), reaching a nadir 33.4% less than expected, and increased 1.4 administrations/week from April 1-June 23 (p < 0.0001). Mechanical thrombectomy volumes decreased by 1.5/week from February 19-March 31, 2020 (p = 0.0039), reaching a nadir 11.3% less than expected. The pandemic group was more likely to ambulate independently at baseline (p = 0.02, OR = 1.60, 95% CI = 1.08–2.42), and less likely to present with mild stroke symptoms (NIH Stroke Scale ≤ 5; p = 0.04, OR = 1.01, 95% CI = 1.00–1.02). Process measures and outcomes of each group did not differ, including door-to-needle time, door-to-puncture time, and successful mechanical thrombectomy rate. Conclusion: Stroke presentations and acute interventions decreased during the early COVID-19 pandemic, at least in part due to patients with lower baseline functional status and milder symptoms not seeking medical care. Public health messaging and initiatives should target these populations.