Suffering A Stroke Can Take Years Off Your Life
April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Current treatments and prevention methods, aimed at improving the quality of life for people who have experienced a stroke, are poorer than researchers have hoped, according to a new study from the UK. Despite best efforts, the researchers found that strokes still take nearly three out of five quality years off a person’s life.
The findings, published online in the journal Neurology, leave considerable room for improvement in treating stroke, which is the leading cause of adult disability and the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States.
“These results highlight the severe toll that stroke takes on millions of people every year,” said Peter M. Rothwell, FMedSci, a professor with the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, United Kingdom. “This is the first study since the 1990s to look at long-term quality of life after stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA).”
The researchers followed 748 people who experienced stroke and 440 who had a TIA for five years. The patients were given questionnaires that measured quality of life and utility, which places a numerical value on the desirability of various health outcomes. These numeric values – based on responses from the general public – range from “worse than death” to “perfect health.” The participants’ responses were compared to an age-matched control group. Increasingly, such measures are being used to determine the cost-effectiveness of new treatment.
The five-year quality-adjusted life years were determined for the participants. The researchers calculated the quality-adjusted life years by multiplying the time spent in a health state by the value assigned to that particular health state. Out of a possible five years of perfect health, for example, the researchers found that people who had a stroke lost 1.71 years due to earlier death and another 1.08 years due to a reduced quality of life. This resulted in a reduction of 2.79 quality-adjusted life years. Depending on the severity of the stroke, these results varied greatly. For example, those having a minor stroke experienced 2.06 fewer quality-adjusted life years; moderate, 3.35 years; and severe, 4.3 quality years. Patients who experienced TIAs had 1.68 fewer quality-adjusted life years.
“Our study should serve as a wake-up call that we need more funding and research for stroke treatments and secondary stroke prevention measures to improve quality of life in stroke survivors,” said Rothwell.