Functional status and use of healthcare facilities in long-term survivors of transient ischaemic attack or minor ischaemic stroke
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BACKGROUND: Stroke may have a major effect on survivors and on the healthcare system. AIMS: To study the functional status and use of healthcare facilities in long-term survivors of a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or minor ischaemic stroke (MIS) and evaluate associations with baseline and follow-up characteristics. METHODS: Follow-up of patients who had participated in the Dutch TIA Trial or the European Atrial Fibrillation Trial was extended to a mean period of 15.6 years. Patients were interviewed through a postal questionnaire (n = 468) and a sample of this group was also interviewed at home (n = 198). Demographic data, information on comorbidity, functional status (Barthel Index, Frenchay Activities Index and modified Rankin Scale) and use of healthcare facilities were recorded. RESULTS: About one third of the survivors interviewed at home experienced any residual disability and 26% were moderately to severely handicapped. Factors associated with poor functional status were advanced age and the presence of any infarct on a baseline computed tomography scan, the recurrence of a new major stroke or the presence of comorbidity of locomotion. One third of survivors used any kind of professional care, which was predominantly related to the functional status at follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: Recurrent stroke and the presence of comorbidity of locomotion are important determinants of long-term disability of survivors of a TIA or an MIS, which, in turn, is strongly associated with the long-term use of professional care. The need for measuring comorbidity with regard to functional status is recommended in research on stroke outcome.
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