Stroke complications may subtract additional two years of healthy life News Archive

Study highlights:

  • Stroke complications may deprive patients of about two years of healthy life, in addition to three years of healthy life lost due to the stroke, according to a South Korean study.
  • A combined measure of potential life years and function lost can impact public health decisions, researchers said.
  • However, it's unclear if the findings can be applied to other populations.


Complications shortly after a stroke deprive patients of about two years of healthy life — in addition to the toll of stroke, according to research reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Findings from the Complication in Acute Stroke Study (COMPASS) are based on data from more than 1,200 patients (average age 66) treated at four South Korean university hospitals in 2004-05. All patients had an acute ischemic stroke, which results when a blood vessel supplying the brain is blocked.

Researchers gauged the impact of stroke and its complications using disability-adjusted life years (DALY) measures of age, gender and disability level. DALY combines years of life lost with years of healthy life lost due to disability. They calculated DALY lost due to stroke and additional DALY lost due to stroke complications.

The average DALY lost for stroke survivors was 3.82 years. When researchers assessed the effect of complications after stroke, they found that average DALY for those without­ complications was 3.10 years. However, patients suffering any of a range of complications — about a third of all subjects — lost an average of 5.21 DALY, a difference of 2.1 healthy life years.

Other research gauging stroke’s burden has focused either on loss of potential life or loss of function. “This study delineates the burden of post-stroke complications with a more comparable and more understandable scale — healthy life years lost,” said Keun-Sik Hong, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and associate professor at Inje University in South Korea.

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