Delay between stroke onset and emergency department evaluation

Neuroepidemiology. 2001 Aug;20(3):196-200. doi: 10.1159/000054787.


Background: Public educational programs have been developed to reduce delays between the onset of ischemic stroke symptoms and emergency department evaluation. An increase in the proportion of patients presenting soon after stroke would reflect the effectiveness of these efforts.

Methods: All patients (n = 506) with ischemic stroke admitted to an academic medical center located within the 'Stroke Belt' of the USA were prospectively identified over 2 years (1998-1999). Demographics, stroke characteristics and time from symptom onset to arrival in the emergency department were recorded.

Results: A higher proportion of ischemic stroke patients presented within 3 h of symptoms in 1998 than in 1999 (18% of 234 vs. 8% of 272, p = 0.0001). Those with less severe strokes (Canadian Neurological Scale score; Spearman r = 0.18, p < 0.0001) and younger patients (r = -0.09, p = 0.04) had greater delays. There was no difference in time to presentation based on race (13% of whites and blacks presented within 3 h, p = 0.70) or sex (16% of women vs. 9% of men, p = 0.10). Logistic regression showed that time to presentation was independently related to both stroke severity and year.

Conclusions: These data show that, after accounting for other variables, the proportion of stroke patients presenting within 3 h of symptom onset to one academic medical center decreased by 10% between 1998 and 1999. Revision of public stroke-related educational programs may need to be considered.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Time Factors