Vol 9, No 1 (2024)
Original article
Published online: 2024-01-16

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Medical emergency team interventions to suspected stroke and stroke mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic in Poland

Michał Maluchnik12, Dorota Walkiewicz1, Bartosz Stawowski1, Jerzy Robert Ładny34, Klaudiusz Nadolny56, Bartosz Karaszewski12
Medical Research Journal 2024;9(1):65-74.

Abstract

Introduction: Stroke is a major medical, economic and social problem. It is one of the leading causes of
death worldwide in developed and highly developed countries. The most important extra-medical factor
in stroke treatment is time. This study aimed to analyse interventions of emergency medical teams (EMT)
to suspected stroke cases during the COVID-19 pandemic and determine the mortality rate of the patients
in question.

Material and methods: The data come from nationwide IT systems. Data from April 2019 to December
2021 were analysed. A total of 8,801,083 interventions were reported throughout the period. The criterion
for inclusion of medical interventions in this study was the diagnosis of stroke (ICD-10: I60–I64) given to
patients by an EMT leader. A total of 142,730 interventions met this criterion. Microdata, pseudonymized
with a common key, allowed to monitor the patients from the EMT call through hospital admission to death.

Results: In April–December 2020 and April–December 2021 more interventions were reported, compared
to the same period in 2019. The number of hospitalizations with a diagnosis of stroke (ICD-10: I60–I64)
was significantly lower in the second and fourth quarters of 2020. From the beginning of the pandemic,
there was a marked increase in the time taken for EMTs to intervene. Death rates increased during the
pandemic period.

Conclusions: There were fewer hospital admissions due to stroke in 2020–2021 compared to the same
period in 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic in Poland, the reported 1-year stroke mortality was
significantly higher which might have been caused by multiple reasons including medical, system and
socio-behavioural, or combined.

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