Stroke patients are more likely to suffer short-term eating problems that can compromise their recovery and more than half face serious malnutrition risks three months afterward, a new study has found.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden who studied 36 stroke patients found nearly all had persistent problems with nutrition, eating difficulties, reduced alertness or swallowing in the first week after being hospitalized. After three months, when most had returned to their homes, 56 percent were still malnourished, even though most had significant improvement in most of their physical functions.
The findings, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, suggest health care workers need to be vigilant for eating problems faced by stroke patients after they’ve left the hospital, said Dr. Jorgen Medin, of the Institute’s Department of Clinical Sciences.
"Our findings show that although the patients' overall nutritional status improved in the three months after their stroke, more than a half of them were still at nutritional risk,” Medin said. "We found it particularly interesting that the majority of eating problems persisted three months after stroke, despite a marked improvement in most of the patients' physical functions.”