Treatment and Rehabilitation on a Stroke Unit Improves 5-Year Survival: A Community-Based Study


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Abstract

Background and PurposeWe have previously reported a marked reduction in mortality up to 1 year after treatment and rehabilitation on a stroke unit versus on general neurological and medical wards in unselected stroke patients. In the present study we wanted to test the hypothesis that this mortality-reducing effect is not temporary but is long lasting.MethodsWe performed a community-based comparison of outcome in 1241 stroke patients from 2 adjacent communities in Copenhagen: in one (Frederiksberg), treatment and rehabilitation were provided on general neurological and medical wards, and in the other (Bispebjerg), treatment and rehabilitation were provided on a single large stroke unit.ResultsThe 2 stroke populations were comparable regarding age, sex, initial stroke severity, lesion diameter on CT, and stroke subtype (hemorrhage/infarct), but patients treated on the stroke unit had a higher frequency of comorbidity and lower incomes. One-year mortality was 39% (general wards) versus 32% (stroke unit) (P=0.01). This difference was still present 5 years after stroke (71% versus 64%; P=0.02). In a multiple logistic regression model of 5-year mortality, treatment on a stroke unit reduced the relative risk of death by 40% (odds ratio, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.42 to 0.85; P<0.01), independent of age, sex, stroke severity, and comorbidity.ConclusionsThe mortality-reducing effect of treatment and rehabilitation on a dedicated stroke unit is long lasting rather than temporary. Stroke unit treatment reduced the relative risk of death within 5 years after stroke by 40% in an unselected, community-based stroke population. These results emphasize the need for organization of treatment and rehabilitation of unselected stroke patients on dedicated stroke units. (Stroke. 1999;30:930-933.)

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