Presenting symptoms and onset-to-arrival time in patients with acute stroke and transient ischemic attack

Julia Warner Gargano, Susan Wehner, Mathew J Reeves
Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases: the Official Journal of National Stroke Association 2011, 20 (6): 494-502
Delayed arrival to the emergency department (ED) precludes most stroke patients from receiving thrombolytic treatment. Our objective in this study was to examine the association between presenting symptoms and onset-to-arrival time (ie, time between onset of symptoms to arrival at the ED) in a statewide stroke registry. Demographics, clinical data, and presenting symptoms were collected for patients with acute stroke or symptomatic transient ischemic attack (TIA) admitted to 15 Michigan hospitals (n = 1922). Polytomous logistic regression models were developed to test the association between presenting symptoms and onset-to-arrival time (classified as <2 hours, 2-6 hours, or >6 hours/unknown). Onset-to-arrival time was <2 hours in 19% of the patients, 2-6 hours in 22%, and >6 hours/unknown in 59%. Unilateral symptoms (reported by 40%) and speech difficulties (reported by 22%) were associated with increased likelihood of arriving within 2 hours (unilateral: adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-1.9; speech: aOR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.2-2.2). Difficulty with walking, balance, or dizziness (12%), confusion (9%), loss of consciousness (6.7%) and falls (3.4%) were associated with lower likelihood of arriving within 2 hours (walking: aOR, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.4-1.0; confusion: aOR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.3-0.8; consciousness: aOR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.1-0.9; falls: aOR, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.3-0.9). Presenting symptoms were strongly associated with time of arrival; patients with unilateral symptoms and speech difficulties were more likely to seek care early. Future studies should consider including more specific patient-level data to identify psychosocial and behavioral aspects of recognition and action to stroke symptoms.

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