Current treatment leaves stroke patients at risk

New research has shown current practices for treating stroke victims may be leaving patients overburdened by their treatment plans putting them at risk of adverse side effects.

A study led by researchers from University of Glasgow found most stroke patients are dealing with several other health conditions, leaving them with a considerable ‘treatment burden’. This may result in ineffective treatment plans and wasted resources.

According to the results of a study on roughly one-third of the adult Scottish population – 1.4m people – approximately one fifth of stroke patients also suffer with another painful condition, whilst another fifth have depression. 

The study found that most stroke sufferers also take multiple other medications, known as polypharmacy, which may be putting them in danger of suffering adverse side-effects.

Experts suggest that care provision should be reviewed to treat the patient holistically rather than giving isolated treatments for different conditions.

The research, entitled 'Stroke, multimorbidity and polypharmacy in a nationally representative sample of 1,424,378 patients in Scotland: implications for treatment burden', is published today in the BMC journal ‘Medicine’.

Professor Frances Mair, Professor of Primary Care Research at the University of Glasgow, said: "Current stroke guidelines and health services are designed for individuals suffering from stroke alone which presents a real problem for patients.

“However, our research found that most stroke patients are also suffering from and receiving treatment for a number of other health conditions, which places a considerable treatment burden on them.

“Our research would suggest that people with stroke should be made aware of the relative benefits of their drugs so they can make more informed decisions about their treatments.   "Care pathways need to be restructured, so that they are focused around the patient themselves, rather than individual conditions.”

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First published: 3 October 2014

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