Objectives COVID-19 presents a risk for delays to stroke treatment. We examined how COVID-19 affected stroke response times.
Methods A literature search was conducted to identify articles covering stroke during COVID-19 that included time metrics data pre- and post-pandemic. For each outcome, pooled relative change from baseline and 95% CI were calculated using random-effects models. Heterogeneity was explored through subgroup analyses comparing comprehensive stroke centers (CSCs) to non-CSCs.
Results 38 included studies reported on 6109 patients during COVID-19 and 14 637 patients during the pre-COVID period. Pooled increases of 20.9% (95% CI 5.8% to 36.1%) in last-known-well (LKW) to arrival times, 1.2% (−2.9% to 5.3%) in door-to-imaging (DTI), 0.8% (–2.9% to 4.5%) in door-to-needle (DTN), 2.8% (−5.0% to 10.6%) in door-to-groin (DTG), and 19.7% (11.1% to 28.2%) in door-to-reperfusion (DTR) times were observed during COVID-19. At CSCs, LKW increased by 24.0% (−0.3% to 48.2%), DTI increased by 1.6% (−3.0% to 6.1%), DTN increased by 3.6% (1.2% to 6.0%), DTG increased by 4.6% (−5.9% to 15.1%), and DTR increased by 21.2% (12.3% to 30.1%). At non-CSCs, LKW increased by 12.4% (−1.0% to 25.7%), DTI increased by 0.2% (−2.0% to 2.4%), DTN decreased by −4.6% (−11.9% to 2.7%), DTG decreased by −0.6% (−8.3% to 7.1%), and DTR increased by 0.5% (−31.0% to 32.0%). The increases during COVID-19 in LKW (p=0.01) and DTR (p=0.00) were statistically significant, as was the difference in DTN delays between CSCs and non-CSCs (p=0.04).
Conclusions Factors during COVID-19 resulted in significantly delayed LKW and DTR, and mild delays in DTI, DTN, and DTG. CSCs experience more pronounced delays than non-CSCs.
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RAM and MAA-S are joint senior authors.
Contributors All authors were involved in the design of the study, organization of the study, manuscript writing, and approval of final version of the manuscript. JD generated the search strategy and performed the search. NLAN and AHD independently performed the abstract and full text screening. NLAN and JLK performed the data extraction and summarized the data. AHD performed the data-analyses and RAM checked the data analysis and validity. NLAN, JLK, AD, and CJ wrote the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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