SOURCE: University of Gothenburg, news release, Jan. 20, 2015
FRIDAY, Jan. 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Stroke survivors -- especially men -- who live alone are at increased risk for premature death, a new study suggests.
Researchers followed nearly 1,100 ischemic stroke survivors in Sweden for 12 years. An ischemic stroke occurs when the brain's blood flow is blocked.
During the follow-up period, 36 percent of survivors who lived alone died, compared to 17 percent of those with partners. Among men, the rates were 44 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
Even after adjusting for other known risk factors such as physical inactivity, heavy drinking and low levels of education, living alone was still associated with an increased risk of death in the study.
"Among the conceivable causes are that people who live alone lead less healthy lives, are less prone to take their medication and tend to wait longer before going to the emergency room," study author Petra Redfors, of the Sahlgrenska Academy Study on Ischemic Stroke, said in a University of Gothenburg news release.
The researchers also found that survivors whose stroke was caused by large blood vessel disease, diabetes or a blood clot from the heart were also at increased risk of early death.
And stroke survivors were 10 times more likely to suffer another stroke and two times more likely to have a heart attack over 12 years than people who never had a stroke, the findings showed.
In addition, the study found that many stroke survivors still had memory, concentration and thinking problems seven years after their stroke.
"Our results underscore the importance of intensive, long-term prevention among stroke patients, including medication for hypertension [high blood pressure], diabetes and other underlying conditions, along with lifestyle changes," Redfors said.
"Above all, serious consideration needs to be given to providing greater support and more thorough information for patients who are living alone," she added.
The American Stroke Association offers healthy living tips for stroke survivors.