A group of Australian researchers are calling for improvements in acute stroke care, after a study they conducted showed that nearly two-thirds of stroke patients fail to survive more than a decade, and more than a quarter had another stroke.

University of Queensland researchers analyzed data from more than 300,000 patients admitted to the hospital following a sudden stroke between 2008 and 2017 in Australia and New Zealand. They found that only 36.4% of patients survived beyond 10 years, and 26.8% had another stroke. Their research also suggested that a stroke reduced a patient’s life expectancy by five and a half years on average, compared with the general population.

Study co-author Kathryn Colebourne, M.D., a stroke and general physician at The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, said these findings reinforce the need for concerted efforts to improve acute stroke care. This includes providing stroke patients with access to important and time-sensitive treatment, such as thrombolysis, a clot busting medication, and endovascular therapy, a specialized procedure to remove blood clots in the vessels to the brain.

Lead author Yang Peng, M.D., an epidemiologist at the University of Queensland agreed, adding that clinicians also need to focus on lifestyle and risk factor modifications for secondary prevention, given the number of patients who will have a recurrent stroke.

“Very few population studies have explored the long-term outcomes of stroke,” he said. “This information is crucial for patients to understand their prognosis, and for health professionals seeking to improve stroke care and preventative measures.”

Full findings are published in Stroke.