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Age-specific and sex-specific trends in life-sustaining care after acute stroke


Background — Temporal trends in life-sustaining care after acute stroke are not well characterized. We sought to determine contemporary trends by age and sex in the use of life-sustaining care after acute ischemic stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage in a large, population-based cohort.

Methods and Results — We used linked administrative data to identify all hospitalizations for acute ischemic stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage in the province of Ontario, Canada, from 2003 to 2017. We calculated yearly proportions of intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation, percutaneous feeding tube placement, craniotomy/craniectomy, and tracheostomy. We used logistic regression models to evaluate the association of age and sex with life-sustaining care and determined whether trends persisted after adjustment for baseline factors and estimated stroke severity. There were 137 358 people with acute ischemic stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage hospitalized during the study period. Between 2003 and 2017, there was an increase in the proportion receiving care in the intensive care unit (12.4% to 17.7%) and mechanical ventilation (4.4% to 6.6%). There was a small increase in craniotomy/craniectomy, a decrease in percutaneous feeding tube use, and no change in tracheostomy. Trends were generally consistent across stroke types and persisted after adjustment for comorbid conditions, stroke-center type, and estimated stroke severity. After adjustment, women and those aged ≥80 years had lower odds of all life-sustaining care, although the disparities in intensive care unit admission narrowed over time.

Conclusions — Use of life-sustaining care after acute stroke increased between 2003 and 2017. Women and those at older ages had lower odds of intensive care, although the differences narrowed over time. Further research is needed to determine the reasons for these findings.



Joundi RA, Smith EE, Yu AYX, Rashid M, Fang J, Kapral MK. J Am Heart Assoc. 2021; 10(18):e021499. Epub 2021 Sep 13.

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