Acute stroke: delays to presentation and emergency department evaluation

Ann Emerg Med. 1999 Jan;33(1):3-8. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(99)70431-2.


Study objective: To document prehospital and inhospital time intervals from stroke onset to emergency department evaluation and to identify factors associated with presentation to the ED within 3 hours of symptom onset, the current time window for thrombolytic therapy.

Methods: Patients admitted through the ED with a diagnosis of stroke were identified through admitting logs. Time intervals were obtained from EMS runsheets and ED records. Information regarding first medical contact, education, and income was obtained by patient interview. Baseline variables were analyzed to assess association with ED arrival within 3 hours of symptom onset; variables significant on univariate analysis were placed in a multivariable model.

Results: There were 151 stroke patients (59% white and 41% black). Time of stroke onset and time to ED arrival were documented for 119 patients (79%). The median time from stroke onset to ED arrival was 5.7 hours; 46 patients (30%) presenting within 3 hours. Of those with times recorded, the median time from stroke onset to EMS arrival was 1.7 hours. Multivariable logistic regression identified use of EMS (odds ratio [OR], 4.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3 to 12.1) and white race (OR, 3.5; 95% CI, 1.3 to 10) as being independently associated with ED arrival within 3 hours of symptom onset. Median time from ED arrival to physician evaluation was 20 minutes. Median time from ED arrival to computed tomographic evaluation was 72 minutes. When patients were asked the main reason they sought medical attention, 40% (60/141) of those able to be interviewed said that they themselves did not decide to seek medical attention, but rather a friend or family member told them they should go to the hospital.

Conclusion: The median time from stroke onset to ED evaluation was 5.7 hours, with almost a third of patients presenting within 3 hours. Use of EMS and white race were independently associated with arrival within 3 hours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / drug therapy
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ohio
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thrombolytic Therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Time Management
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data