The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic raises the concern that other non-COVID conditions will be affected by a decline in care. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the decline in ambulatory presentations for vascular events (stroke, transient ischemic attack [TIA], and myocardial infarction [MI]) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients with a diagnosis of ischemic stroke, TIA, or MI documented anonymously in 1,262 general practices in Germany were included. We studied the differences between 2019 and 2020 (between April and June) in terms of rates and baseline characteristics by comparing monthly absolute frequencies.
A total of 3,496 patients with stroke (mean age: 72.2 years), 1,608 patients with TIA (mean age: 71.5 years), and 2,385 patients with MI (mean age: 66.8 years) were identified between April and June 2020, indicating a decrease of 10% (stroke), 16% (TIA), and 9% (MI) compared to 2019. For patients with stroke, the decrease in men was 13% (women: -6%) but reached 17% in the age category 51-60 years. For MI, the decrease was only obvious in males (14%). The largest decrease in stroke (-17%) and MI (-19%) was noted in April, while that for TIA occurred in May (-22%). In June for all 3 conditions, the previous year’s level was achieved. Only in TIA, the age differs between 2019 and 2020 (mean age: 69.9 vs. 71.5 years; p < 0.05). In patients with stroke and MI, the proportions of men were lower in 2019 than in 2020 (stroke: 54.8-50.5%, p < 0.05 and MI: 64-60.2%, p < 0.05).
Although the decline in the number of patients presenting with stroke, TIA, and MI was not as noticeable in the ambulatory sector as it was in the area of emergency hospital-based care, our data indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic affected all sectors within the medical care system.