A stroke subtracts nearly three out of five quality years from a persons life, despite stroke treatments and interventions to improve quality of life, according to a new study.
These findings, according to researchers in the United Kingdom, show room for improvement in stroke treatment.
Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. The study, which appears in the Oct. 9 online issue of the journal Neurology, is the first since the 1990s to look at long-term quality of life after stroke and transient ischemic attack, according to author Peter M. Rothwell, FMedSci, a professor with the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, U.K.
These results highlight the severe toll that stroke takes on millions of people every year, Rothwell said in a news release.
For the study, 748 people who experienced stroke and 440 who had a transient ischemic attack were followed for five years and given questionnaires that measured quality of life and utility, which places a numerical value on the desirability of various health outcomes. These values, which were based on responses from members of the general public, range from worse than death to perfect health. Participants were compared to an age-matched control group.
The study determined the five-year quality-adjusted life years for the participants, calculated by multiplying the time spent in a health state by the value assigned to that particular health state. For example, their findings showed out of a possible five years of perfect health, people who had a stroke lost 1.71 years because of earlier death and another 1.08 years because of a reduced quality of life, resulting in a reduction of 2.79 quality-adjusted life years.
The results varied greatly depending on severity of the stroke, with those having a minor stroke experiencing 2.06 fewer quality-adjusted life years; moderate, 3.35 quality years; and severe, 4.3 quality years. People who had transient ischemic attacks 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, Rothwell said in the release.
Study abstract: www.neurology.org/content/early/2013/10/09/WNL.0b013e3182a9f45f.abstract