Stroke care in times of COVID-19

Stroke expert Michael Brainin discussed about the care of strokes in times of a pandemic at a international conference

24/04/2020

On April 15, the Chinese Stroke Association (CSA) and the Stroke and Vascular Neurology (SVN) organized a global accessible webinar on the topic "COVID-19 & Stroke". The pivotal result: A decline in the number of patients with strokes in hospitals was recorded worldwide. 12 experts from all over the world discussed the reasons and the conclusions drawn. It is intended to establish a worldwide network within the framework of the World Stroke Organization in order to contribute to the combat against the pandemic and its effects.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians face particular difficulties in order to diagnose and treat strokes and neurological diseases. A decline in the number of patients with strokes in hospitals has been recorded worldwide. The reasons therefore are many and varied. Firstly, because many patients are afraid of contracting COVID-19, and secondly concerns exist that there are not enough doctors available to treat patients.

Consequently effective health management solutions and useful practices for the treatment of patients need to be found rapidly despite the pandemic. This global webinar enabled to exchange experiences, especially with China, to find solutions and establish cooperation. A total of 12 experts from China, America and Austria exchanged views. Around 5,000 doctors and medical staff followed the webinar live via WeChat.

Monitoring the global situation

Prof. Michael Brainin, head of the Department for Clinical Neurosciences and Preventive Medicine and President of the World Stroke Organization (WSO), considers it the WSO's task to observe the global situation. Especially in developing countries, stroke care is endangered said Brainin. Since the therapeutic window to treat a stroke is very small, he added, it is likely that patients will miss it or not come to hospital at all. The WSO is currently assessing the degree of decline in stroke admissions to hospitals.

Furthermore, the WSO sees itself as a platform for global activities, the stroke expert said. Here, the focus is on promoting best practice guidelines. In this respect, it is important not to promote one' s own guidelines, but rather the practicability of those that are already known. Furthermore, telemedicine plays an essential role in dealing with the COVID crisis, bridging the temporal and spatial distance between doctors as well as between doctors and patients.

Promotion of networking

"The World Stroke Organization hopes to establish a platform to exchange information worldwide. To be part of this endeavor fills us with pride and happiness. We are working with medical professionals all over the world to fight the pandemic," said neuroscientist Michael Brainin.

On the WSO website, experience reports from different countries on the handling, adaptation and requirements of stroke care in hospitals are presented. Through these online platforms and webinars, it is possible to exchange approaches to solutions.

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