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Eur Neurol ; 85(5): 349-366, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1973983


BACKGROUND AND AIM: Despite progress made over the last 30 years, stroke is still a leading cause of disability and mortality; likewise, its burden is expected to increase over the next decades, due to population growth and aging. The development of drugs with better safety-efficacy profiles as well as strategies able to improve ischemic stroke management from the pre-hospital setting is needed. SUMMARY: The pathophysiology of ischemic stroke involves multiple pathways resulting in cerebral artery obstruction and brain tissue ischemia. To date, the only approved drug for acute ischemic stroke is intravenous thrombolytic alteplase. Intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) can be administered alone or in combination with endovascular treatment (EVT) with mechanical thrombectomy, in case of large vessel occlusion and generally within 6 h from symptoms onset. The risk of potential bleeding complications, especially symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage, is one of the reasons for the reluctance to administer IVT. Tenecteplase is a promising alternative fibrinolytic agent, having a better safety profile than alteplase. Moreover, recent evidences have allowed an extension of the IVT ± EVT time window for patients with unknown onset time and for those with a known onset time thanks to the new "tissue-window" approach guided by advanced neuroimaging techniques, which also helps in collateral circulation estimation. Regarding primary-secondary prevention, researchers are focused on improving the efficacy of antithrombotic drugs with a "hemostasis-sparing" approach. Neuroprotective agents are also under development, particularly stem cells. The COVID-19 pandemic has critically stressed global healthcare systems, with collateral damage resulting in access delivery of only emergency care, such as ischemic stroke. Regarding telemedicine, it has had a minor role in acute stroke management, and with the onset of COVID-19, this role will most likely be adopted to increase access and delivery in stroke assessment, but also in the follow-up.

Brain Ischemia , COVID-19 , Endovascular Procedures , Ischemic Stroke , Neuroprotective Agents , Stroke , Brain Ischemia/complications , Brain Ischemia/drug therapy , COVID-19/complications , Endovascular Procedures/methods , Fibrinolytic Agents/therapeutic use , Humans , Neuroprotective Agents/therapeutic use , Pandemics , Stroke/diagnosis , Stroke/drug therapy , Tenecteplase/therapeutic use , Thrombectomy/methods , Thrombolytic Therapy , Tissue Plasminogen Activator/therapeutic use , Treatment Outcome
Int J Stroke ; 16(7): 771-783, 2021 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1374086


BACKGROUND: The effect of the COVID pandemic on stroke network performance is unclear, particularly with consideration of drip&ship vs. mothership models. AIMS: We systematically reviewed and meta-analyzed variations in stroke admissions, rate and timing of reperfusion treatments during the first wave COVID pandemic vs. the pre-pandemic timeframe depending on stroke network model adopted. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS: The systematic review followed registered protocol (PROSPERO-CRD42020211535), PRISMA and MOOSE guidelines. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL until 9 October 2020 for studies reporting variations in ischemic stroke admissions, treatment rates, and timing in COVID (first wave) vs. control-period. Primary outcome was the weekly admission incidence rate ratio (IRR = admissions during COVID-period/admissions during control-period). Secondary outcomes were (i) changes in rate of reperfusion treatments and (ii) time metrics for pre- and in-hospital phase. Data were pooled using random-effects models, comparing mothership vs. drip&ship model. Overall, 29 studies were included in quantitative synthesis (n = 212,960). COVID-period was associated with a significant reduction in stroke admission rates (IRR = 0.69, 95%CI = 0.61-0.79), with higher relative presentation of large vessel occlusion (risk ratio (RR) = 1.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.24-2.12). Proportions of patients treated with endovascular treatment increased (RR = 1.14, 95%CI = 1.02-1.28). Intravenous thrombolysis decreased overall (IRR = 0.72, 95%CI = 0.54-0.96) but not in the mothership model (IRR = 0.81, 95%CI = 0.43-1.52). Onset-to-door time was longer for the drip&ship in COVID-period compared to the control-period (+32 min, 95%CI = 0-64). Door-to-scan was longer in COVID-period (+5 min, 95%CI = 2-7). Door-to-needle and door-to-groin were similar in COVID-period and control-period. CONCLUSIONS: Despite a 35% drop in stroke admissions during the first pandemic wave, proportions of patients receiving reperfusion and time-metrics were not inferior to control-period. Mothership preserved the weekly rate of intravenous thrombolysis and the onset-to-door timing to pre-pandemic standards.

COVID-19 , Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data , Stroke/therapy , Thrombolytic Therapy , Humans , Incidence , Pandemics , Reperfusion , Time-to-Treatment
Eur Stroke J ; 5(3): 222-229, 2020 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-679995


PURPOSE: To analyse structural and non-structural modifications of acute stroke care pathways undertaken at healthcare institutions across the regions of Italy due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. METHODS: Research on National decrees specific for the pandemic was carried out. The stroke pathways of four Italian regions from North to South, such as Lombardy, Veneto, Lazio and Campania, were analysed before and after the pandemic outbreak. FINDINGS: On 29 February 2020, the Italian Minister of Health issued national guidelines on how to address the COVID-19 emergency. Stroke management was affected and required changes, basically resulting in the need to prioritise the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. In the most affected regions, the closure of departments and hospitals led to a complete reorganisation of previously functioning stroke networks. With the closure of several Stroke Units and Stroke Centres, the transportation time to hospital lengthened significantly, especially for the outlying populations. DISCUSSION: The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has been spreading rapidly in Italy and placing an overwhelming burden on healthcare systems. In response to this, political and healthcare decision-makers worked together to develop and implement efforts to sustain the national healthcare system while fighting the pandemic. Stroke care pathways changed during the pandemic and different organisational models were applied in the most affected regions. CONCLUSIONS: Stroke treatment pathways will need to be redesigned so to guarantee that severe and acute disease patients do not lose their rights to the access and delivery of care during the COVID-19 pandemics.