Weight loss common in stroke survivors
Many people lose weight after suffering a stroke, a finding that highlights the need for closer observation of nutritional status in stroke patients, the researchers say.
Loss of weight in stroke patients may be related to a variety of factors, including difficulty swallowing, depression, decreased food intake, and other neurologic deficits that contribute to eating difficulties, Dr. Ann-Cathrin Jonsson and colleagues from Lund University, Sweden, note in a report in the journal Stroke.
They examined the prevalence of weight loss in 305 stroke survivors. Overall, 74 patients (24 percent) experienced weight loss greater than 3 kg (6.6 pounds) after 4 months, they report. At 16 months post-stroke, weight loss greater than 3 kg was observed in 79 (26 percent) patients.
Predictors of this degree of weight loss included severe stroke and high blood sugar levels.
Past research has shown that undernutrition markedly increases the risk of complications after stroke and is also associated with impaired recovery.
Jonsson and colleagues say clinical nutrition must be a part of post-stroke care. Intervention programs have been associated with “meaningful changes in nutrition support practices and patient outcomes,” Jonsson and colleagues point out.
“These programs could be regarded as good examples of methods in secondary prevention of weight loss and subsequent malnutrition in poststroke care,” they add.
SOURCE: Stroke, March 2008.
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