Delays in Presentations of Stroke Patients at the University Hospital of the West Indies

Williams, E. W.; Cawich, S. O.; Shah, S.; Hendricks, S. J.; Edwards, I.; Gordon-Strachan, G.; Williams-Johnson, J.; Bruce, C. A. R.; Singh, P.; French, S.; Hutson, R.; Reid, M.; Crandon, I. W.
September 2009
West Indian Medical Journal;Sep2009, Vol. 58 Issue 4, p341
Academic Journal
Thrombolytic therapy has been proven to be beneficial in selected patients with ischaemic strokes. Early diagnosis is paramount because there is a narrow therapeutic window for these patients to derive benefit from thrombolytics. We sought to evaluate the timing of stroke presentations at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in order to assess the potential eligibility for definitive therapy. A retrospective audit of all consecutive patients who had emergent computed tomographic (CT) scans for suspected ischaemic stroke at the UHWI was performed over a six-month period between February 2006 and July 2006. Data were extracted from the hospital records and analysed using SPSS version 12. There were 331 patients evaluated with brain CT for a clinically suspected stroke during the study period. Complete time documentation and CT scans were available for analysis in 171 patients with ischaemic strokes. The average age was 64.5 years (range ± SD: 3-98 ± 19.9 years) with a slight male preponderance (58% vs 42%). There was considerable pre-hospital delay with 63% of patients presenting more than 12 hours after the onset of symptoms. There were also long inhospital delays. Only 52% of patients were assessed by a physician within an hour of presentation to hospital and only 55% of patients had CT scans completed within three hours of a physician's request. Although thrombolysis is not routinely performed for ischaemic strokes at our institution, sensitization of physicians and the general public in our setting to symptoms and signs of this disease is urgently needed to improve stroke management, whereby definitive treatment can be considered for selected patients.


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