More people survive strokes nowadays than they did 10 years ago thanks to improved treatment and prevention methods. As a matter of fact, from 1999 to 2009, the relative rate of death from stroke declined by more than 33 percent. For seniors, this is reason to rejoice – especially for men. According to recent research, men who come out of a stroke alive maintain a higher standard of living than women.
In the study, which was published Feb. 7 in the journal Neurology, researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical center analyzed the quality of life in men and women who had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). TIA is often referred to as a "mini-stroke" since the symptoms are like those of a stroke but do not last as long. A total of 1,370 patients aged 56 to 77 from the AVAIL registry, a national registry of ischemic stroke and TIA patients, were involved in the study.
Researchers evaluated their quality of life at three months and again one year after a stroke using a variety criteria, such as mobility, self-care, depression or anxiety, pain and ability to perform everyday activities.
"We found that women had a worse quality of life than men up to 12 months following a stroke, even after considering differences in important sociodemographic variables, stroke severity and disability," Dr. Cheryl Bushnell, associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist and senior author of the study, said in a press release.
Now with more people surviving strokes, Bushnell urges physicians and other health care providers to keep a watchful eye over patients who will benefit from their services. She suggests utilizing gender-specific screening tools to improve their level of senior wellness.
"The reason we do these types of studies is to be able to add different variables sequentially to determine what accounts for these gender differences," Bushnell told the source. "We found that age, race and marital status accounted for the biggest differences between men and women at three months, with marital status being the most important. Even though the women in the study were older than the men, our study showed that age really had very little effect on quality of life."
While doctors are still debating how marriage ties into the reduction of stroke risk, some speculate that the social support, lower stress and reduced blood pressure all factor in.
Stroke awareness: Recognizing the signs
With rising rates of stroke survival comes new territory of trying to prevent another stroke from occurring. It's important for not only doctors to monitor stroke signs, but also that survivors ensure they maintain quality health. According to the American Stroke Association, the risk of stroke for someone who has already had one is multiplied compared to a person who has not.
The same holds true for those who have had a TIA. Someone who's had one or more TIAs is nearly 10 times more likely to experience a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who hasn't. TIAs are key predictors of stroke, so if you have been affected by them, consult with your doctor to discover ways to keep the bigger shark at bay. After all, recognizing and treating TIAs can lower your risk of a major stroke. TIAs should be considered a medical emergency and followed up immediately with a health care professional. Heart attacks also increases risk of having a stroke.
As far as the Wake Forest Baptist research, the team is slated to further the findings by comparing the cognitive decline in men and women before and after a stroke.