Weekend stroke patients face higher risk of death

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: June 28th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

As with any sickness or injury, people seldom choose the time and place at which a stroke becomes a horrible reality. But if one were to select the day for this blockage of the bloodstream to happen, they’d do well to steer clear of the weekend.

A recent Canadian study found that patients suffering from the most common form of stroke who were admitted to the hospital over a weekend were more likely to die than those hospitalized during the week.

Researchers looked at nearly twenty-seven-thousand patients who were admitted into six-hundred-six Canadian hospitals between April two-thousand-three and March of two-thousand-four. About a fourth of those patients went to the hospital on a Saturday or Sunday.

The striking finding? Those admitted over the weekend were at a fourteen percent greater risk of dying within a week of initial treatment than those admitted during the week.

This so-called “weekend effect” was more apparent when patients visited a rural hospital as opposed to an urban one. And researchers believe that the higher weekend mortality risk could be associated with a relative lack of resources or expertise in hospitals during weekends… for instance, when the emergency room doctor has less access to a specialist.

Experts emphasize the importance of obtaining early, preventive treatment as a possible way of avoiding a stroke. But if stroke symptoms arise, weekend or not, patients should always seek immediate medical care.