Two studies have found that there are several racial disparities in acute stroke patients who also tested positive for Covid-19. One study observed that African Americans ended staying in the hospital for the longest time after undergoing treatment for stroke as compared to their white and Asian counterparts. The other one highlighted that African Americans were also more likely to succumb to a stroke in comparison to patients who belong to other races. Both of the studies were presented at the Society of Neurointerventional Surgery’s 17th annual meeting on August 6.
The studies were recently published in the British Medical Journal. In the study that looked into the length of ICU stays, lead author Vineeth Thirunavi from the department of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and his colleagues used data from the Neurovascular Quality Initiative-Quality Outcomes Database registry and evaluated the treatment outcomes of 3281 patients from 23 U.S. centers spread across 17 states from 2015 to March 2020.
The researchers specifically looked into how racial disparities play out in the management of stroke thrombectomy. It is a procedure to remove a blood clot from a blood vessel following a stroke. Post-procedure, it was found that African American patients stayed for 10.9 days in the hospital while for white people it was 7.9 days. The authors concluded that this could suggest racial disparities in stroke thrombectomy management and clinical outcomes.
In the other study, where Adam Dmytriv from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School and the team of researchers, came to the conclusion that African American patients have higher mortality rates as compared to other races, after evaluating 69 cases of acute stroke in patients with the coronavirus. This included 27 African Americans and 42 patients who are white, Hispanic, and Asian.
All of them underwent treatment in 14 major hospitals located in the U.S. and Canada from 14 March 2020 to 14 April 2020.
The study found that only 14.8% of African American patients received intravenous tissue plasminogen, a protein that is involved in the breakdown of clots, as compared to 31% of stroke patients from other races.
That meant African American patients were more likely to suffer from intracranial hemorrhage, or when a blood vessel ruptures within the skull. Among the 69 patients, 55% of African Americans had a higher mortality rate as compared to only 28.6% of patients of other races.
These findings contradict Thirunavi’s study that claims that African Americans suffer less in-hopsital mortality as compared to white patients even though their clinical outcomes were not as favorable.
“Clearly it is important to better understand the reasons for increased mortality in African Americans with COVID-19-associated stroke,” said Dr. Adam A. Dmytriw, lead author of the study and Fellow at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in a EurekAlert! Press release. “It is our hope that further research will help us reduce racial disparities and prevent negative outcomes.”