OBJECTIVE: To characterize patients with acute ischemic stroke related to SARS-CoV-2 infection and assess the classification performance of clinical and laboratory parameters in predicting in-hospital outcome of these patients.
METHODS: In the setting of the STROKOVID study including patients with acute ischemic stroke consecutively admitted to the ten hub hospitals in Lombardy, Italy, between March 8 and April 30, 2020, we compared clinical features of patients with confirmed infection and non-infected patients by logistic regression models and survival analysis. Then, we trained and tested a random forest (RF) binary classifier for the prediction of in-hospital death among patients with COVID-19.
RESULTS: Among 1013 patients, 160 (15.8%) had SARS-CoV-2 infection. Male sex (OR 1.53; 95% CI 1.06-2.27) and atrial fibrillation (OR 1.60; 95% CI 1.05-2.43) were independently associated with COVID-19 status. Patients with COVID-19 had increased stroke severity at admission [median NIHSS score, 9 (25th to75th percentile, 13) vs 6 (25th to75th percentile, 9)] and increased risk of in-hospital death (38.1% deaths vs 7.2%; HR 3.30; 95% CI 2.17-5.02). The RF model based on six clinical and laboratory parameters exhibited high cross-validated classification accuracy (0.86) and precision (0.87), good recall (0.72) and F1-score (0.79) in predicting in-hospital death.
CONCLUSIONS: Ischemic strokes in COVID-19 patients have distinctive risk factor profile and etiology, increased clinical severity and higher in-hospital mortality rate compared to non-COVID-19 patients. A simple model based on clinical and routine laboratory parameters may be useful in identifying ischemic stroke patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection who are unlikely to survive the acute phase.