Effect of COVID-19 on Emergent Stroke Care: A Regional Experience

Jessica Hsiao, Emily Sayles, Eleni Antzoulatos, Robert J. Stanton, Heidi Sucharew, Joseph P. Broderick, Stacie L. Demel, Matthew L. Flaherty, Aaron W. Grossman, Charles Kircher, Natalie Kreitzer, Katrina Peariso, Charles J. Prestigiacomo, Peyman Shirani, Kyle B. Walsh, Holly Lampton, Opeolu Adeoye, Pooja Khatri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Anecdotal evidence suggests that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic mitigation efforts may inadvertently discourage patients from seeking treatment for stroke with resultant increased morbidity and mortality. Analysis of regional data, while hospital capacities for acute stroke care remained fully available, offers an opportunity to assess this. We report regional Stroke Team acute activations and reperfusion treatments during COVID-19 mitigation activities. Methods: Using case log data prospectively collected by a Stroke Team exclusively serving ≈2 million inhabitants and 30 healthcare facilities, we retrospectively reviewed volumes of consultations and reperfusion treatments for acute ischemic stroke. We compared volumes before and after announcements of COVID-19 mitigation measures and the prior calendar year. Results: Compared with the 10 weeks prior, stroke consultations declined by 39% (95% CI, 32%-46%) in the 5 weeks after announcement of statewide school and restaurant closures in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Results compared with the prior year and time trend analyses were consistent. Reperfusion treatments also appeared to decline by 31% (95% CI, 3%-51%), and specifically thrombolysis by 33% (95% CI, 4%-55%), but this finding had less precision. Conclusions: Upon the announcement of measures to mitigate COVID-19, regional acute stroke consultations declined significantly. Reperfusion treatment rates, particularly thrombolysis, also appeared to decline qualitatively, and this finding requires further study. Urgent public education is necessary to mitigate a possible crisis of avoiding essential emergency care due to COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E2111-E2114
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • pandemics
  • reperfusion
  • restaurants
  • stroke
  • viruses


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