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Interim guidance issued on stroke care during COVID-19 pandemic

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Stroke Council Leadership has released “Temporary Emergency Guidance to U.S. Stroke Centers During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which was published late yesterday in Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

In broad terms, the Stroke Council Leadership recommends that U.S. stroke centers:

  • Adhere to treatment guidelines for patients to ensure appropriate stroke care is provided to the extent possible during the crisis;
  • seek ways to minimize the use of scarce personal protective equipment (PPE) and reduce the number of team members responding to emergency stroke patients;
  • increase the use of interactive videoconferencing in the remote delivery of acute stroke care, also known as telestroke;
  • follow their local health department, Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization guidelines on hand washing, use of PPE and COVID-19 testing and evaluation;
  • continue to deliver multidisciplinary, collaborative stroke care to patients for a unified Stroke System of Care; and
  • ask medical personnel who are exposed or contract COVID-19 to self-quarantine as appropriate.

The Stroke Council Leadership noted, “While these recommendations have not yet undergone the traditional rigorous process of development, refinement and peer review … we acknowledge the mounting concern regarding optimal stroke care during the COVID-19 pandemic among vascular neurologists and those clinicians who care for patients with stroke. We issue this temporary statement as an interim stopgap opinion, pending a more thorough and considered process.”

The Stroke Council Leadership will continue to collect individual protocols and best practices and to evaluate and update the statement continuously during the crisis.

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