Objective: We previously demonstrated comprehensive stroke care (CSC) capabilities of the hospitals affect in-hospital mortality of patients with acute stroke. With the advent of unprecedented aging society, proper implementation of stroke centers requires understanding of geographical disparity of patient characteristics as well as stroke care capabilities. The aim of this study was to elucidate such geographical disparity regarding acute stroke care in Japan using a nationwide database.
Materials and methods: We analyzed the data obtained from the Japanese Diagnosis Procedure Combination-based Payment System in 445 institutions between 2010 and 2012. Patients hospitalized emergently for ischemic stroke(IS), non-traumatic intracerebral hemorrhage(ICH) and non-traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage(SAH) were identified using International Classification of Diseases-10 diagnosis codes. We classified the location of the hospitals into 4 areas, “Metropolitan Employment Area-Central (MEA-C)”, “ Metropolitan Employment Area-Outlying (MEA-O)”, “Micropolitan Employment Area-Central (McEA-C)”, and “ Micropolitan Employment Area-Outlying (McEA-O)”. We investigated patient characteristics, medical backgrounds, interventions and outcomes for each area.
Results: Data obtained from a total of 214,910 patients with acute strokes (136,753 IS, 60,379 ICH and 17,778 SAH) were analyzed. As for patient characteristics, elderly patients and those with hypertension were more common in McEA-C and McEA-O, and stroke severity was more severe in McEA-C in all stroke types. As for hospital characteristics, proportion of admission by ambulance and CSC capabilities of the hospitals were smaller in all stroke types. Moreover, emergent interventions such as intravenous rt-PA infusion were performed at a lesser extent and in-hospital mortality was higher in McEA-C and McEA-O, and severe disability with mRS 3-6 was more often noted in McEA-C in all stroke types.
Conclusion: We demonstrated geographical disparity of acute stroke care in Japan from a nationwide database. For proper implementation of stroke centers, centralization of acute stroke care capabilities should be considered in the rural areas to improve outcomes of acute stroke.