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Premature Death Risk Up for Stroke Survivors Living Alone

Findings especially strong for men

MONDAY, Jan. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Stroke survivors -- especially men -- who live alone are at increased risk for premature death, a new study suggests.

As part of the Sahlgrenska Academy Study on Ischemic Stroke, Petra Redfors, M.D., of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, followed 1,090 ischemic stroke survivors in Sweden for 12 years. During the follow-up period, 36 percent of survivors who lived alone died, compared to 17 percent of those with partners. Among men, the rates were 44 and 14 percent, respectively. Even after adjusting for other known risk factors such as physical inactivity, heavy drinking, and low levels of education, living alone was still associated with an increased risk of death in the study.

Redfors also found that survivors whose stroke was caused by large blood vessel disease, diabetes, or a blood clot from the heart were also at increased risk of early death. And stroke survivors were 10 times more likely to suffer another stroke and two times more likely to have a myocardial infarction over 12 years than people who never had a stroke. In addition, many stroke survivors still had memory, concentration, and cognitive problems seven years after their stroke.

"Among the conceivable causes are that people who live alone lead less healthy lives, are less prone to take their medication, and tend to wait longer before going to the emergency room," Redfors said in a university news release. "Our results underscore the importance of intensive, long-term prevention among stroke patients, including medication for hypertension, diabetes, and other underlying conditions, along with lifestyle changes." Redfors added that, "above all, serious consideration needs to be given to providing greater support and more thorough information for patients who are living alone."

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