Feeding Dependence and Nutritional Status After Acute Stroke

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Abstract

Background and Purpose

We assessed the nutritional status of patients with acute stroke and evaluated it in relation to the patients' dependence on assistance with feeding.

Methods

Fifty patients aged 70 years or older, admitted from their homes, were included. Weight index, triceps skin-fold thickness, arm muscle circumference, serum proteins, delayed hypersensitivity, body composition measured by bioelectric impedance, and functional condition were determined on admission and 2 and 9 weeks after admission. Food and fluid consumption were also recorded.

Results

On admission, four patients were regarded as protein-energy malnourished. Those who required assistance with feeding after admission (n=18, 36%) had lower serum albumin (P<.05), lower body cell mass (P<.01), and were more anergic than the independent patients (P<.01) on admission. The mean food consumption was 72% of the food served without significant difference between dependent and independent patients. Nine weeks after the onset of stroke symptoms, the patients who were dependent on assisted feeding showed a decrease in body cell mass. The loss of body cell mass was related to their activity and feeding dependence.

Conclusions

Low serum albumin and anergy commonly occur in elderly patients with acute stroke, and they occur more prevalently among those with a severely impaired functional condition. During the recovery period, the patients use body fat to compensate for energy needs, and immobility leads to loss of body cell mass. (Stroke. 1994;25:366-371.)

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