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Cost of caring for stroke patients double that of earlier estimates
Date:6/7/2010

, health-care costs fall sharply when people get access to the clot-busting drug tPA, which can significantly reduce post-stroke disability, as well as treatment in a specialized stroke unit.

Prevention is the biggest factor in reducing health-care spending overall, Dr. Sharma says. If people maintain a healthy blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, reduce sodium intake, and exercise, the impact on stroke costs would be dramatic.

While at least 80 per cent of costs during the first six months post-stroke are health-system costs, families take on a greater proportion of stroke-related expenses, including those associated with caregiving, transportation, and lost income, beginning at the seventh month post-stroke and beyond.

Costs rise dramatically as levels of disability increase. People with non-disabling strokes about 25 per cent of patients personally expended about $2,000 in costs during the first six months. The costs for families increased from there to as much as $200,000 for the most severely affected.

"The difference between merely having symptoms to requiring even minimal at-home assistance from others can mean a significant cost difference," says Dr. Sharma. "The need to have someone drive you around and help with shopping can double personal costs as well as costs incurred by the person helping you."

Dr. Sharma, who is director of the Ottawa Hospital's regional stroke program, says that personal costs for stroke survivors continue through their lifetimes. "It's a burden on individuals, their families, and communities."

"A stroke doesn't just affect one person − it has a ripple effect," says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Michael Hill. "It can challenge families, overburden caregivers, and have a tremendous toll on our healthcare system."

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability. The situation may get worse, with aging baby boomer
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Contact: Jane-Diane Fraser
jfraser@hsf.ca
613-569-4361 x273
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Source:Eurekalert

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