The first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta saw fewer stroke patients, but a higher number of stroke-related deaths, according to new research.
The study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, was conducted by a team of eight doctors and other researchers across the province.
“One of the things that we began to realize within the first few months of the pandemic is that there seemed to be a decline in the number of people presenting with acute strokes,” lead author Dr. Aravind Ganesh, a neurologist at the University of Calgary, said in an interview.
Several countries, he said, had started noticing a trend of fewer people seeking emergency care for a variety of medical issues during the pandemic.
“The question that people started asking was whether the public health restrictions that we had implemented as a result of the pandemic might be having some unintended consequences of dissuading people from attending at the hospital for emergencies like stroke and heart disease,” said Ganesh.
“So, the premise for this study came from this very legitimate worry on our part.”
Researchers looked at data for 19,531 Alberta patients from January 2016 to February 2020 and another 4,900 patients during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the first wave of the pandemic in Alberta, we had quite a decline in the number of people who were presenting with acute ischemic stroke — that’s strokes because of blood clots in the brain,” explained Ganesh.
Hospital avoidance suspected
“Along with that, we also found the that the use of stroke therapies declined by about the same amount.”
Researchers also found that the number of patients with stroke symptoms did not return to pre-pandemic levels after the first wave in spring 2020.
“Especially during the second- and third-wave periods of our study, when COVID-19 cases surged, we expected to observe an increase in stroke presentations instead of declines,” they write in the study.
Ganesh said he and other researchers were able to look at what happened to those patients by studying how many people died due to strokes.
“We found those out-of-hospital deaths ended up rising four out of the five time periods in the pandemic,” he said. “We ended up being able to find some of these missing strokes that way.”
Similar results were found in hospitals.
“During the second wave of the pandemic and the third wave of the pandemic, more people ended up dying in hospital who had strokes,” he said.
The study looked at population-level data, so it’s not clear why people decided not to seek treatment.
“Is it that people were waiting to seek help until their strokes became more severe?” he asked.
Ganesh said researchers don’t know for sure, but they believe people were trying to avoid hospitals.
“We suspect it was hospital avoidance because of the out-of-hospital deaths that we found.”
He said the results of the research weren’t all bad.
“We actually did end up catching up later on in the pandemic,” said Ganesh.
He said public health officials and doctors also worked to remind people to go to the hospital for emergencies.
“What we’ve understood is that we really need to think critically about the kind of public health messaging we do during the pandemic.”
The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life
Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.
That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.
What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?
Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.
Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.
Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations
As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.
Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:
- Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
- Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
- Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.
Determining a Fair Payment Plan
Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.
Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.
Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers
When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:
- Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
- Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
- Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
- Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.
Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.
Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.
Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home
THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.
The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.
No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.
Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.
Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister
Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.
Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.
“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”
Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.
“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.
LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.
“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.
The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.
LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.
From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.
On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.
“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.
LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.
“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.
She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.
Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.
LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.
“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.
–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News
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