The impact of a comprehensive national policy on improving acute stroke patient care in Lithuania

Rytis Masiliūnas*, Aleksandras Vilionskis, Natan M. Bornstein, Daiva Rastenytė, Dalius Jatužis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Reperfusion therapy (RT) is a mainstay treatment for acute ischemic stroke (AIS). We aimed to evaluate the impact of a comprehensive national policy (CNP) to improve access to RT for AIS patients across Lithuania. Patients and methods: Aggregated anonymized data on AIS cases treated in Lithuanian hospitals between 2006 and 2019 were retrospectively obtained from the Institute of Hygiene and the Stroke Integrated Care Management Committee. Through an interrupted time series analysis, we examined the trends in AIS hospital admissions, RT, and in-hospital case fatality rates prior to the enactment of CNP in 2014, changes immediately after the intervention, and differences in trends between the pre- and post-intervention periods. Mean yearly door-to-needle times were calculated post-intervention. Results: 114,436 cases were treated for AIS in Lithuanian hospitals before, and 65,084 after the government intervention. We observed a significant decreasing post-intervention trend change in AIS hospital admission rate per 100,000 population (regression coefficient ± standard error: β = –16.47 ± 3.95, p = 0.002) and an increasing trend change in the proportion of AIS patients who received reperfusion treatment: intravenous thrombolysis (β = 1.42 ± 0.96, p < 0.001) and endovascular therapy (β = 0.85 ± 0.05, p < 0.001). The proportion of patients treated in stroke centers increased immediately after the intervention (β = 4.95 ± 1.14, p = 0.001), but the long-term post-intervention trend did not change. In addition, there was a significant decreasing trend in all cause in-hospital case fatality rate within primary and comprehensive stroke centers after the intervention (β = –0.60 ± 0.18, p = 0.008) despite its prompt initial immediate increase (β = 1.68 ± 0.73, p = 0.043). The mean countrywide door-to-needle time decreased from 68 min in 2014 to 43 min in 2019. Conclusion: The comprehensive national stroke patient care policy could be associated with an immediate increase in stroke center treatment rate, increased access to RT, and improved stroke care performance measures. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-142
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Stroke Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
European Cooperation in Science and Technology


    • Ischemic stroke
    • Lithuania
    • implementation
    • interrupted time series
    • thrombectomy
    • thrombolysis


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