Preventive post-stroke care proves critical for recovery

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Within a year of suffering an acute ischemic stroke, two-thirds of Medicare patients discharged from the hospital either died or were rehospitalized, residents recently discovered. Full findings appear in the December issue of the journal Stroke.

“Increased efforts to prevent strokes are critical,” Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, the study's lead researcher, said in a published report. “For patients presenting with acute stroke, this is an important need to better implement hospital, transition-of-care and outpatient strategies aimed at avoiding those deaths and rehospitalizations that are preventable.”

The study used data from 90,000 Medicare patients, admitted between 2003 and 2006, with an average age of 79, who were treated for stroke at 625 different hospitals. According to the study, 14% of these stroke patients died within 30 days of their stroke, while 31% died within a year.

Additionally, 62% of the stroke victims were readmitted to the hospital or died in the year following the stroke. Researchers pointed out that Medicare patients within this age group are more likely to suffer from other comorbid conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

“We need to better understand the patterns and causes of mortality and readmission after acute stroke to help avoid hospitalizations and deaths that are preventable,” Farnow wrote.