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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on blood pressure control after a stroke or transient ischemic attack among patients at VA medical centers.

Arling G, Miech EJ, Myers LJ, Sexson A, Bravata DM. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on blood pressure control after a stroke or transient ischemic attack among patients at VA medical centers. Journal of stroke and cerebrovascular diseases : the official journal of National Stroke Association. 2023 Jun 1; 32(6):107140.

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OBJECTIVE: To study factors associated with systolic blood pressure(SBP) control for patients post-discharge from an ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack(TIA) during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to pre-pandemic periods within the Veterans Health Administration(VHA). MATERIALS AND METHODS: We analyzed retrospective data from patients discharged from Emergency Departments or inpatient admissions after an ischemic stroke or TIA. Cohorts consisted of 2,816 patients during March-September 2020 and 11,900 during the same months in 2017-2019. Outcomes included primary care or neurology clinic visits, recorded blood pressure readings and average blood pressure control in the 90-days post-discharge. Random effect logit models were used to compare clinical characteristics of the cohorts and relationships between patient characteristics and outcomes. RESULTS: The majority (73%) of patients with recorded readings during the COVID-19 period had a mean post-discharge SBP within goal ( < 140 mmHg); this was slightly lower than the pre-COVID-19 period (78%; p = 0.001). Only 38% of the COVID-19 cohort had a recorded SBP in the 90-days post-discharge compared with 83% of patients during the pre-pandemic period (p = 0.001). During the pandemic period, 29% did not have follow-up primary care or neurologist visits, and 33% had a phone or video visit without a recorded SBP reading. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with an acute cerebrovascular event during the initial COVID-19 period were less likely to have outpatient visits or blood pressure measurements than during the pre-pandemic period; patients with uncontrolled SBP should be targeted for follow-up hypertension management.

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