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Stroke. 1999 Jan;30(1):40-8.

Factors associated with delayed admission to hospital and in-hospital delays in acute stroke and TIA: a prospective, multicenter study.Seek- Medical-Attention-in-Time Study Group.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Umeå, Sweden.



Early admission to hospital followed by correct diagnosis with minimum delay is a prerequisite for successful intervention in acute stroke. This study aimed at clarifying in detail the factors related to these delays.


This was a prospective, multicenter, consecutive study that explored factors influencing the time from stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) onset until patient arrival at the emergency department, stroke unit, and CT laboratory. Within 3 days of hospital admission, the patients and/or their relatives were interviewed by use of a standardized structured protocol, and the patients' neurological deficits were assessed. No information about this study was given to the public or to the staff.


Patients (n=329) were studied at 15 Swedish academic or community-based hospitals: 252 subjects with brain infarct, 18 with intracerebral hemorrhage, and 59 with TIA. Among stroke and TIA patients, the median times from onset to hospital admission, stroke unit, and CT scan laboratory were 4.8 and 4.0 hours, 8.8 and 7.5 hours, and 22.0 and 17.5 hours, respectively. From multivariate ANOVA with logarithmically transformed time for increasing delay to hospital admission as the dependent variable, a profile of significant risk factors was obtained. This included patients with a brain infarct, gradual onset, mild neurological symptoms, patients who were alone and did not contact anybody when symptoms occurred, patients who lived in a large catchment area, those who did not use ambulance transportation, and those who visited a primary care site. These factors explained 45.3% of the variance in delayed hospital admission. The median time from arrival at the emergency department to arrival at the stroke unit or CT scan laboratory (whichever occurred first) was 2.6 and 2.7 hours in the stroke and TIA groups, respectively. A large catchment area, moderate to mild neurological deficit, and waiting for the physician at the emergency department were all significantly related to in-hospital delay.


Increased public awareness of the need to seek medical or other attention promptly after stroke onset, to use an ambulance with direct transportation to the acute-care hospital, and to have more effective in-hospital organization will be required for effective acute treatment options to be available to stroke patients.

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