Researchers at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have determined that women have a worse quality of life than men after a stroke and also report more health problems. For the study, a total of 1,370 patients ages 56 years  to 77 years  from the AVAIL registry, a national registry of ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients, were included in the study. The patients’ quality of life was measured at 3 months and 1 year after a stroke or TIA using a formula that assessed self-care, mobility, daily activities, depression, and pain.

The findings of the study show that at 3 months, women were more likely than men to report problems with mobility, pain/discomfort, and anxiety and depression. The difference was greatest in those over the age of 75 years. In addition, at 1 year, women still had lower quality of life scores overall than men; however, the magnitude of those differences had diminished, according to Cheryl Bushnell, MD, senior author of the study.

Bushnell states, “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.” She adds, “As more people survive strokes, physicians and other healthcare providers should pay attention to quality of life issues and work to develop better interventions, even gender-specific screening tools, to improve these patients’ lives.”

Bushnell says that the results suggest that further research on mobility, pain or discomfort and anxiety/depression may provide a clearer understanding for how to improve the lives of women after stroke. The next step for the Wake Forest research team is to examine the trajectory of cognitive decline in men and women both before and after stroke.

Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center