Stroke patients slower getting to treatment during pandemic, study finds

Though minutes can make all the difference in the treatment of people having strokes, many of them are seeking help at hospital and other treatment centers hours later than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, new research shows.

"Our findings indicate a dire need for public education to address COVID-19-related fears to ensure people with stroke symptoms seek the lifesaving care they need without delay," said Clemens Schirmer, MD, PhD, of Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.

Dr. Schirmer is lead author of a study finding that stroke patients now are arriving at hospitals and treatment centers over two hours later than they did during the same time period last year.

The study, published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, examined 710 patients with acute ischemic strokes at 12 stroke centers in six states. It compared data for these patients during February and March of this year to the time it took 320 stroke patients to arrive for treatment in February and March of 2019.

Researchers found that stroke patients in 2020 were coming to hospitals and treatment centers for about an average of 160 minutes, or 2.6 hours later than they did in 2019.

"When it comes to stroke treatment, every minute counts. My colleagues and I have been devastated to see patients arriving at the hospital too late for us to help them," said Dr. Schirmer.


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