Journal of the American Heart Association: Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease (Oct 2019)

Reasons for Prehospital Delay in Acute Ischemic Stroke

  • Joachim Fladt,
  • Nicole Meier,
  • Sebastian Thilemann,
  • Alexandros Polymeris,
  • Christopher Traenka,
  • David J. Seiffge,
  • Raoul Sutter,
  • Nils Peters,
  • Henrik Gensicke,
  • Benjamin Flückiger,
  • Kees de Hoogh,
  • Nino Künzli,
  • Bettina Bringolf‐Isler,
  • Leo H. Bonati,
  • Stefan T. Engelter,
  • Philippe A. Lyrer,
  • Gian Marco De Marchis

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 20


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Background Prehospital delay reduces the proportion of patients with stroke treated with recanalization therapies. We aimed to identify novel and modifiable risk factors for prehospital delay. Methods and Results We included patients with an ischemic stroke confirmed by diffusion‐weighted magnetic resonance imaging, symptom onset within 24 hours and hospitalized in the Stroke Center of the University Hospital Basel, Switzerland. Trained study nurses interviewed patients and proxies along a standardized questionnaire. Prehospital delay was defined as >4.5 hours between stroke onset—or time point of wake‐up—and admission. Overall, 336 patients were enrolled. Prehospital delay was observed in 140 patients (42%). The first healthcare professionals to be alarmed were family doctors for 29% of patients (97/336), and a quarter of these patients had a baseline National Institute of Health Stroke Scale score of 4 or higher. The main modifiable risk factor for prehospital delay was a face‐to‐face visit to the family doctor (adjusted odds ratio, 4.19; 95% CI, 1.85–9.46). Despite transport by emergency medical services being associated with less prehospital delay (adjusted odds ratio, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.24–0.71), a minority of patients (39%) who first called their family doctor were transported by emergency medical services to the hospital. The second risk factor was lack of awareness of stroke symptoms (adjusted odds ratio, 4.14; 95% CI, 2.36–7.24). Conclusions Almost 1 in 3 patients with a diffusion‐weighted magnetic resonance imaging–confirmed ischemic stroke first called the family doctor practice. Face‐to‐face visits to the family doctor quadrupled the odds of prehospital delay. Efforts to reduce prehospital delay should address family doctors and their staffs as important partners in the prehospital pathway. Clinical Trial Registration URL: Unique identifier: NCT02798770.