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Stroke: is the weekend the more dangerous time?

Canadian researchers have found that people admitted to hospital with stroke during the weekend are more likely to die than those admitted during the week – and it doesn’t matter how severe the stroke.

15 Nov 2010

Canadian researchers have found that people admitted to hospital with stroke during the weekend are more likely to die than those admitted during the week – and it doesn’t matter how severe the stroke.

They reached their conclusion after analysing five years of data from the Canadian Stroke Network on more than 20,000 patients with acute stroke who were treated at 11 stroke centres in Ontario. Only the first stroke experienced by a patient was included in the study.

People with moderate to severe stroke were just as likely to be admitted on weekdays and weekends, but those with mild stroke were less likely to be admitted during the weekend. Those seen during the weekend tended to be slightly older, more likely to be taken by ambulance and experienced a shorter time from the onset of stroke symptoms to arrival at the hospital.

Seven days after a stroke, patients who had been seen during the weekend had an 8.1% risk of dying, compared to 7% among those who had been seen during the week. These results stayed the same, regardless of age, gender, severity of stroke, other medical conditions and the use of medications. No differences were seen in the quality of care - including brain scans and admission times - between weekday and weekend admissions.

Lead author Dr Moira Kapral of the University of Toronto said that the study set out to test whether the severity of strokes on weekends compared to weekdays would account for lower survival rates at the weekend. The results suggested that stroke severity was not necessarily the reason for the discrepancy.

“Stroke is not the only condition in which lower survival rates have been linked for people admitted to hospital on the weekends,” she said. “The reason for the differences in rates could be because of hospital staffing, limited access to specialists, and procedures done outside regular hours.

The study is reported in Neurology.


Published: 15 Nov 2010