Just 36% of acute stroke patients survive more than 10 years

"A stroke reduced a patient's life expectancy by five and a half years on average, compared with the general population," says Yang Peng. "In proportional terms, this meant a stroke reduced a person's life expectancy by one third." (Credit: Getty Images)

Almost two thirds of acute stroke patients fail to survive more than a decade and have a high risk of recurrence, according to a new study.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 300,000 patients admitted to the hospital following a sudden stroke between 2008 and 2017 in Australia and New Zealand.

The team also investigated how many years were lost to stroke by comparing a patient’s predicted life expectancy with the length of actual survival.

Only 36.4% of patients survived beyond 10 years, and 26.8% had another stroke, says Yang Peng, an epidemiologist at the University of Queensland and lead author of the study in the journal Stroke.

“We found that a stroke reduced a patient’s life expectancy by five and a half years on average, compared with the general population,” Peng says. “In proportional terms, this meant a stroke reduced a person’s life expectancy by one third.

“Patients with a hemorrhagic stroke who have bleeding in the brain are at greater risk of death, another stroke, and reduced life expectancy, than those with an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a burst blood vessel.”

Acute stroke is one of the most common causes of hospitalization and disability in Australia and has been linked to risk factors such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes, smoking, and heart disease by the Stroke Foundation.

The findings reinforce the need for concerted efforts to improve acute stroke care, says coauthor Kathryn Colebourne, a stroke and general physician at The Prince Charles Hospital.

“We need stroke networks of care to rapidly identify patients who have had a stroke, provide them with access to important and time-sensitive treatment, such as thrombolysis, a clot busting medication, and endovascular therapy, a specialized procedure to remove blood clots in the vessels to the brain,” Colebourne says.

“We also need dedicated stroke units to provide multidisciplinary care for these patients which is known to reduce death and disability after a stroke.”

There should also be a focus on lifestyle and risk factor modifications for secondary prevention, given the number of patients who will have a recurrent stroke, Peng says.

“Very few population studies have explored the long-term outcomes of stroke. This information is crucial for patients to understand their prognosis, and for health professionals seeking to improve stroke care and preventative measures,” Peng says.

The National Heart Foundation of Australia funded the work.

Source: University of Queensland