A doctoral thesis that followed 1,090 stroke cases in western Sweden suggests that men who live alone face greater long-term risk of premature death than other patients. According to a news release from the University of Gothenburg, as part of the Sahlgrenska Academy Study on Ischemic Stroke (SAHLSIS), Petra Redfors, MD, PhD student, investigated the long-term prognosis for 1,090 patients who had sustained an ischemic stroke before the age of 70 and compared the results with 600 controls.

The release notes that Redfors’ findings indicate 36% of patients who were living alone, compared to 17% of those with partners, died within 12 years post-stroke. Among the men, the gap widened to 44% compared to 14%.

Excess mortality linked to living alone was reportedly still found after adjusting for physical activity, high alcohol consumption, low educational level, and other known risk factors.

Redfors explains in the release that potential causes include that individuals living alone may lead less healthy lives, are less prone to take their medication, and tend to wait longer before going to the emergency room. She adds that among the healthy controls, excess mortality was also greater among men, particularly those who were living alone.

The release reports that etiology also played a key role in the research. Additional risk factors included sustaining a stroke resulting from large vessel disease, a blood clot from the heart, or diabetes. The thesis maintains that stroke victims faced 10 times as great a risk of recurrence within 12 years as healthy controls. The risk of myocardial infarction was twice as much, the release adds.

Redfors points out that the pattern of excess mortality among individuals who lived alone surfaced here as well, “Among the other risk factors for recurrence were the severity of the original event, along with diabetes or coronary artery disease. Physical inactivity increased the risk of cardiac infarction after stroke,” she says.

Additionally, the thesis indicates that a large percentage of stroke patients were still experiencing memory, concentration, cognitive, and other losses at a 7-year follow-up.

“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 emphasizes in the release.

She adds that serious consideration must be given to providing greater support and more thorough information for patients who are living alone.

Source: University of Gothenburg