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Women fare worse after stroke than men, study finds

Thursday March 6, 2014
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Even though more people survive stroke now than 10 years ago, women who survive stroke have a worse quality of life than men, according to a new study.

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, N.C., compared the quality of life in men and women who had a stroke or transient ischemic attack. The findings were published Feb. 7 on the website of the journal Neurology.

A total of 1,370 patients ages 56-77 from the AVAIL registry — a national, multicenter, longitudinal registry of ischemic stroke and TIA patients — were included in the study. Of the participants, 53.7% were male.

The research team measured patients’ quality of life at three months and one year after a stroke or TIA using the European Quality of Life-5 Dimensions instrument, which assesses mobility, self-care, everyday activities, depression/anxiety and pain.

“We found that women had a worse quality of life than men up to 12 months following a stroke, even after considering differences in important sociodemographic variables, stroke severity and disability,” senior author Cheryl Bushnell, MD, associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist, said in a news release. “As more people survive strokes, physicians and other healthcare providers should pay attention to quality of life issues and work to develop better interventions, even gender-specific screening tools, to improve these patients’ lives.”

Researchers found at three months, women were more likely than men to report problems with mobility, pain or discomfort, and anxiety or depression, but the difference was greatest in those older than 75. At one year, women still had lower quality of life scores overall than men but the magnitude of those differences had diminished, Bushnell said.

“The reason we do these types of studies is to be able to add different variables sequentially to determine what accounts for these gender differences,” Bushnell said in the release. “We found that age, race and marital status accounted for the biggest differences between men and women at three months, with marital status being the most important. Even though the women in the study were older than the men, our study showed that age really had very little effect on quality of life.”

The results suggest further research on mobility, pain or discomfort, and anxiety or depression may provide a clearer understanding for how to improve the lives of women after stroke, according to Bushnell. The research team’s next step will be to examine the trajectory of cognitive decline in men and women before and after stroke, she added.

Study abstract: www.neurology.org/content/early/2014/02/07/WNL.0000000000000208.abstract

To see what else is trending in Stroke, visit www.Nurse.com/Stroke.


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