Among stroke survivors, women seem to be at greater risk of poor physical and emotional wellbeing than men, new research suggests.
In a study of nearly 1,300 stroke survivors, researchers found that women tended to report poorer quality of life than men did six months after the stroke. The reasons are not completely clear, but factors such as age and stroke severity did not explain the difference, the investigators report in the medical journal Stroke.
Strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is suddenly disrupted, most commonly by a blood clot. Depending on how severely the brain is damaged from the resulting lack of oxygen, a stroke can cause mild to serious long-term disabilities - including physical limitations, problems with thinking and communicating and emotional difficulties; depression is not uncommon.
Some past research has suggested that women, in particular, may see their quality of life suffer after a stroke. But those studies have generally been small, according to Dr Philip M. W. Bath of the University of Nottingham in the UK, one of the study's researchers.
The study was large and allowed the researchers to account for numerous factors that might explain the gender difference, he said, including patients' history of heart problems, diabetes and other conditions, as well as the treatment they received for the stroke.
Even with these factors considered, the researchers found that being a woman seemed to be a risk factor for having a poorer quality of life. Compared with men, women tended to report more problems in physical functioning in day-to-day life and in mental health.
It's not yet clear why this is, but one possibility is that women and men differ in their ability to cope with and adapt to life after a stroke.
Men, Bath said, are more likely to have a partner to help them with their recovery, whereas women are more likely to be widowed.
Women in this study were also more likely than men to be living in a nursing home six months after their stroke.
"We all need to be more aware that women tend to have worse outcomes, in part because they have less support," Bath said.
Source: China Daily/Agencies