A prescription for better stroke care

'The good news is that Ontarians are receiving very good stroke care overall,' said Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, lead author of the study and director of the Stroke Research Unit of St. Michael's Hospital. 'But there are still things we can do to help patients receive better quality, long-term care after a stroke. And the first thing on that list is giving each patient a prescription before he or she leaves as part of discharge planning.' Credit: St. Michael's Hospital

Stroke patients are 70 per cent more likely to continue taking their stroke prevention medications one year later if they have a prescription in hand when discharged – according to researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

Using data from 11 centres, researchers determined how many Ontarians were taking their medications one week, one year and two years after having a stroke. The results reveal the importance of simple interventions, such as giving a prescription to a patient before discharge, to increase short- and long-term stroke prevention.

"The good news is that Ontarians are receiving very good stroke care overall," said Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, lead author of the study and director of the Stroke Research Unit of St. Michael's Hospital. "But there are still things we can do to help receive better quality, long-term care after a stroke. And the first thing on that list is giving each patient a prescription before he or she leaves as part of discharge planning."

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, there are an estimated 50,000 strokes in Canada each year. After having a stroke or , the risk of having another stroke is greater. The risk of recurrence, however, can be reduced by more than 80 per cent by following strategies such as rehabilitation and taking medications.

Dr. Saposnik said that at the time of discharge most patients are more focused on the tangible issues of their recovery, such as: "What will happen at rehab?" or "What will happen when I go home?"

"Patients have other things on their minds after a stroke and it's up to us to give them the tools they need to thrive," said Dr. Saposnik, who is also an adjunct scientist at ICES.

The two types of drugs most commonly prescribed after a stroke are antihypertensives (to lower blood pressure) and statins (to lower blood cholesterol). Patients may be prescribed one of these drugs or both. Patients may remain on these drugs for the rest of their lives to prevent another stroke. About 315,000 Canadians are living with the effects of stroke.

Stroke patients who had been given a prescription before discharge were 70 per cent more likely than other patients to still be taking both antihypertensives and statins one year later and 40 per cent more likely after two years.

There are several reasons why a patient might be discharged before receiving a prescription. Doctors may assume their patient will receive a prescription from a family doctor, whom patients are supposed to see within seven days of discharge. Another reason some patients leave without a prescription is that the prescription might be dictated in the chart but not actually delivered to patients.

This study is published in The Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Over 80s often over-treated for stroke prevention

Feb 26, 2014

People in their 80s are often prescribed drugs to ward off a stroke when the risk of a stroke is not that high and the drugs have other side effects, finds a perspective published online in Evidence Based Medicine.

Common infections tied to some stroke risk in kids

Aug 20, 2014

A new study suggests that colds and other minor infections may temporarily increase stroke risk in children. The study found that the risk of stroke was increased only within a three-day period between a ...

Recommended for you

Most seniors eligible for statin Rx under new guidelines

Nov 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—Most older Americans qualify for treatment with statins under new guidelines for the treatment of blood cholesterol released late last year by the American College of Cardiology and the American ...

Asymptomatic atherosclerosis linked to cognitive impairment

Nov 25, 2014

In a study of nearly 2,000 adults, researchers found that a buildup of plaque in the body's major arteries was associated with mild cognitive impairment. Results of the study conducted at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.