Obese More Likely to Be Kept in the Hospital After Stroke

Study suggests they suffer more from these attacks than leaner patients

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TUESDAY, March 13, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Obese people are much less likely than lean patients to be discharged directly home from a hospital after being treated for ischemic stroke (reduced or blocked blood flow to the brain), a U.S. study finds.

Instead, obese patients were more likely to first be transferred to inpatient rehabilitation care, general medicine service, or skilled nursing facility.

"This study suggests that hospitalized obese individuals may have poorer discharge clinical outcomes than their leaner counterparts," says a team from the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center.

The study included 451 ischemic stroke patients, average age 65, treated between 2003 and 2006. The patients were divided into four categories based on their body mass index (BMI): BMI of 35 or greater -- class II obesity; BMI of 30 to 34 -- class I obesity; BMI of 25 to 29 -- overweight; BMI of less than 25 -- lean.

Class II obesity patients were much less likely to be discharged directly home than lean patients (26 percent vs. 45 percent). The study also found that class II and class I obesity patients showed a statistically nonsignificant trend toward extended length of hospital stay than lean patients (6.3 days vs. 5.2 days).

The study found no differences in in-hospital death rates (18 of the 451 patients died) or in functional activity outcome among the different BMI categories.

Further research needs to be done to confirm the results and to identify the reasons for this difference between obese and lean patients, the researchers wrote in the March issue of the Archives of Neurology.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke rehabilitation.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, March 12, 2007

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