Introduction: It is crucial to understand the reasons behind pre- and in-hospital delays to improve nationwide access to effective treatment for acute stroke.
Aims: To evaluate the pre- and in-hospital delays and to compare the intravenous (IV) thrombolysis rates in the urban and rural areas of the Province of Pomerania, Poland.
Materials & methods: We evaluated the medical records of 2134 patients treated in the stroke units (SUs) and consecutively reported to the Pomeranian Stroke Register from June 2006-December 2007.
Results: The time of ischaemic stroke onset was known in 488 (59%) of the 834 urban patients and in 744 (70%) of the 1063 rural patients (P < 0.001). The proportion of patients who called the emergency medical services with a delay of >45 min was similar in both locations: urban, 314/488 (64.3%) vs rural, 490/744 (65.8%). Although the proportion of patients who reached the emergency room within 3 h was higher in the rural areas (29.0% vs 24.3%; P = 0.02), only 4.2% of these patients received IV thrombolysis compared with 23.1% in the urban areas (P < 0.001). The proportion of patients who did not seek any kind of professional medical help prior to admission was lower in the rural areas (29/744 (3.9%) vs urban 50/488 (10.2%)) (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Pre-hospital delays reduced the number of patients eligible for IV thrombolysis in both rural and urban areas. The low proportion of patients treated with IV thrombolysis in rural SUs may be attributed to ineffective in-hospital procedures.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.