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Stroke treatments effective regardless of age

May 21, 2013

Stroke survivors often need the use of long term care to return to previous levels of independence and function, and while people might assume the treatments involved in the process vary depending on the patient's age, a new study suggests that's not the case. Researchers from the University of Georgia have found that stroke survivors experienced similar responses to the treatments they received, regardless of how old they are.

The findings, which were published recently in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, were drawn from an extensive analysis of records from more than 125 Veterans Affairs medical centers across the country, encompassing nearly 3,200 patients. Study authors looked at the patients' depressive symptoms, response to blood thinning medication and blood pressure. Interestingly, there was not much difference in response to treatments despite variances in the subjects' age.

"Anyone who has a stroke should have these risk factors monitored when they are sent home and when they come back for follow-up appointments," said Neale Chumbler, the study's lead author. "Traditionally, preventative care has not been as aggressive for older patients. This research shows it is just as important for people in their 80s as it is for those in their 50s."

The findings could potentially affect a large number of older adults. According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated two-thirds of people who have strokes are 65 or older. Chumbler's results also shed light on the important role of stroke prevention. Luckily, many of the methods are common parts of a healthy lifestyle for seniors including exercising regularly, eating a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and managing cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic.