Acute telestroke evaluations during the COVID-19 pandemic

Neurol Sci. 2022 Apr;43(4):2211-2215. doi: 10.1007/s10072-021-05826-7. Epub 2022 Jan 22.


We sought to analyze the effect of COVID-19 on telestroke requests and to characterize patients remotely evaluated for acute ischemic stroke (AIS) during this time. This study is a retrospective database review of all telestroke requests at one academic vascular neurology center telestroke network with seven remote sites in the USA between March 15 and April 30, 2020. Data were compared with historical cohort spanning same time frame in 2019 using parametric or nonparametric methods as appropriate. Among telestroke requests, characteristics of age, gender, race/ethnicity, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), primary diagnosis of AIS or transient ischemic attack (TIA), and number of patients receiving intravenous alteplase (IV-rtPA) and endovascular therapy (ET) were recorded. There was a 53% decrease in telestroke evaluation requests in 2020 from 2019 (p < 0.00001). Mean NIHSS in 2020 was 9.1 (SD ± 8.4) and mean NIHSS in 2019 was 7.2 (SD ± 7.3) (p = 0.122). Among patients with primary diagnosis of suspected AIS or TIA, mean age was 60.5 years in 2020 (SD ± 17.5) and mean age of 67.0 years in 2019 (SD ± 16.0) (p = 0.038). A significant lower number of telestroke evaluations were performed with a higher mean NIHSS overall and a lower mean age among AIS/TIA-suspected patients. Higher NIHSS and severity in all telestroke evaluations reflect neurological manifestations of AIS and mimics, possibly influenced by COVID-19. The younger age of those with suspected AIS or TIA reflects thrombotic complications in atypical stroke populations.

Keywords: Acute ischemic stroke; Telestroke; Transient ischemic attack.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19*
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Stroke*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Stroke* / drug therapy
  • Stroke* / therapy


  • Fibrinolytic Agents