Beneficial effects of a semi-intensive stroke unit are beyond the monitor

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2015;39(2):102-9. doi: 10.1159/000369919. Epub 2015 Jan 23.

Abstract

Background and purpose: Precise mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of the stroke unit (SU) are not fully established. Studies that compare monitored stroke units (semi-intensive type, SI-SU) versus an intensive care unit (ICU)-based mobile stroke team (MST-ICU) are lacking. Although inequalities in access to stroke unit care are globally improving, acute stroke patients may be admitted to Intensive Care Units for monitoring and followed by a mobile stroke team in hospital's lacking an SU with continuous cardiovascular monitoring. We aimed at comparing the stroke outcome between SI-SU and MST-ICU and hypothesized that the benefits of SI-SU are driven by additional elements other than cardiovascular monitoring, which is equally offered in both care systems.

Methods: In a single-center setting, we compared the unfavorable outcomes (dependency and mortality) at 3 months in consecutive patients with ischemic stroke or spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage admitted to a stroke unit with semi-intensive monitoring (SI-SU) to a cohort of stroke patients hospitalized in an ICU and followed by a mobile stroke team (MST-ICU) during an equal observation period of 27 months. Secondary objectives included comparing mortality and the proportion of patients with excellent outcomes (modified Rankin Score (mRS) 0-1). Equal cardiovascular monitoring was offered in patients admitted in both SI-SU and MST-ICU.

Results: 458 patients were treated in the SI-SU and compared to the MST-ICU (n = 370) cohort. The proportion of death and dependency after 3 months was significantly improved for patients in the SI-SU compared to MST-ICU (p < 0.001; aOR = 0.45; 95% CI: 0.31-0.65). The shift analysis of the mRS distribution showed significant shift to the lower mRS in the SI-SU group, p < 0.001. The proportion of mortality in patients after 3 months also differed between the MST-ICU and the SI-SU (p < 0.05), but after adjusting for confounders this association was not significant (aOR = 0.59; 95% CI: 0.31-1.13). The proportion of patients with excellent outcome was higher in the SI-SU (59.4 vs. 44.9%, p < 0.001) but the relationship was no more significant after adjustment (aOR = 1.17; 95% CI: 0.87-1.5).

Conclusions: Our study shows that moving from a stroke team in a monitored setting (ICU) to an organized stroke unit leads to a significant reduction in the 3 months unfavorable outcome in patients with an acute ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. Cardiovascular monitoring is indispensable, but benefits of a semi-intensive Stroke Unit are driven by additional elements beyond intensive cardiovascular monitoring. This observation supports the ongoing development of Stroke Centers for efficient stroke care.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Ischemia / complications
  • Brain Ischemia / mortality*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / complications
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / mortality*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hospital Units
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / mortality*
  • Young Adult