A new study conducted by researchers of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, suggests that 3 months post-stroke, patients continue to experience problems eating and are at risk of malnutrition, despite improvements in physical function. The study reportedly assessed 36 hospitalized stroke survivors over a median of 5 days. Researchers report that the patients were assessed again approximately 3 months following stroke, when the majority of them had returned to their own homes.

The results indicate that all participants experienced eating difficulties, reduced alertness, or swallowing problems post-stroke. More than half of the patients were female, researchers say, and ranged from aged 40 years to 80 years, with a median of aged 75 years. 

Jorgen Medin, RN, PhD, nurse researcher of the department of clinical sciences, explains that goal of the study, which was, “to compare eating difficulties among patients 3 months after they suffered a stroke with the problems they experienced in the acute phase of the disease.” Medin reiterates the results, noting that, “Approximately 5 days after they had had their stroke 78% of the patients were at nutritional risk and by 3 months this figure was still 56%. Although some of the patients’ eating abilities improved at the 3-month follow-up, the majority remained unchanged and some even deteriorated,” Medin says.

Researchers report that the study also indicated a quarter of the patients had had a previous stroke, 47% lived alone, 92% lived in their own home, 78% had retired, and 17% received home care. The results also note that the percentage of patients exhibiting unsatisfactory food consumption rose from 61% at the acute hospital phase to 89% at 3 months, when they had returned to their communities.

Researchers recommend healthcare professionals assess the eating problems faced by stroke patients when they have returned to the community, to help protect against the risk of malnourishment. 

The study appears in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Source: Journal of Advanced Nursing