Elderly May Be Shortchanged in Stroke Care

They receive fewer tests and less lifestyle change advice than younger patients
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Current stroke care practices shortchange the elderly, who undergo fewer diagnostic investigations than their younger counterparts, and who also receive less advice on how to modify their lifestyles in order to prevent stroke recurrence, according to a study published in the March issue of the Postgraduate Medical Journal.

Y-Y Karen Kee, of Mayday University Hospital in Croydon, United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a study of 250 stroke patients, of whom 149 (60 percent) were aged 75 years and younger. Both groups had a median time from onset to clinic appointment of 24 days.

Although rates of computed tomography scans were similar for younger and older patients, they were performed sooner on younger patients, and this group also had more MRI scans and carotid Doppler imaging tests, the investigators found. Whereas 30.2 percent of younger patients were given advice on weight reduction, only 12.9 percent of older patients received this, and dietary advice was given to 46.3 percent of younger patients versus 31.7 percent of their older counterparts, the researchers note.

"It is important to ensure that older patients receive the same treatment as younger patients, especially as there is growing evidence that older patients benefit from aggressive management of their transient ischemic attack or minor stroke," the authors conclude. "A change in the attitude of healthcare professionals is needed to root out ageism."

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