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Younger Stroke Survivors Face Health Care Barriers

They may have less access to doctors, medications and insurance than those over age 65

MONDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Younger stroke survivors may have less access to medical care, medications and health insurance than their counterparts who are 65 and older, according to study findings published online Nov. 13 in the Archives of Neurology.

Deborah A. Levine, M.D., M.P.H., of the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues assessed interview data on 3,681 stroke survivors, including 1,172 subjects aged 45 to 64 and 2,509 subjects aged 65 and older.

The researchers found that younger stroke survivors were more likely than their older counterparts to report not visiting a general physician (14 percent versus 10 percent) or a medical specialist (8 percent versus 5 percent), and not being able to afford medications (15 percent versus 6 percent). They also found that younger stroke survivors were more likely to be black (19 percent versus 10 percent), male (52 percent versus 47 percent) and to not have health insurance (11 percent versus 0.4 percent).

"Further research is needed to determine whether this younger high-risk population has adverse outcomes, such as death and cardiovascular events, or has increased long-term health care utilization due to reduced access to physician care and medications," the authors conclude. "Further work addressing access gaps, linking to related health outcomes and costs, and demonstrating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of possible improvement strategies is warranted."

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