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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 00:44 GMT
Stroke survivor advice 'lacking'
Stroke patient receiving physio
Strokes are caused by bleeds or clots in the brain
Stroke survivors are not getting the vital information they need on leaving hospital, a study says.

The Stroke Association said nearly half of patients were discharged without being given essential dietary advice and a third without exercise tips.

The charity said there was also a lack of advice about rehab services, access to benefits and medication.

It added the situation was scandalous, but the government said care had been improving and would continue to do so.

There are 87,000 first strokes - the brain equivalent of a heart attack - and 53,700 recurrent strokes in England and Wales each year, the equivalent to someone having a stroke every five minutes.

STROKE SURVIVOR
Greg Baynham, from Bournemouth, suffered a stroke while at work one morning two years ago.
He did not end up going to hospital until that evening where the stroke was diagnosed, but on discharge he received nothing.
The 34-year-old said: "I was not given any information or leaflets when I left hospital.
"At the very least, they could have given me leaflets to tell me what it was that had happened to me, what I could or could not do and whether I was going to have another stroke."

Around one-third of people who suffer a stroke make a full recovery, one-third are left disabled and one-third will die.

The Stroke Association said survivors were left feeling "abandoned" on discharge after analysing data from a Healthcare Commission survey of 800 stroke survivors and its own research involving telephone interviews and focus groups.

The lack of healthy lifestyle advice comes despite research showing that even moderate physical activity can reduce the risk of a stroke by up to 27%, while eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can cut the risk by 25%.

The study also found a quarter of patients leave hospitals without a clear understanding of the purpose of the medication they have been given to take home.

Information from hospital staff about local support groups also falls short, with over half not receiving any.

Survivors

And only half of survivors said they were able to understand the information they were given in hospital about their condition.

Joe Korner, of the Stroke Association, said: "After the trauma of stroke, getting the right information is vital for the best recovery.

"And some of that information can quite literally save your life.

"It is scandalous that people can be leaving hospital after a stroke without the vital information they need to help prevent another one occurring."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Ten years ago specialist stroke services were a rarity, now they are the norm.

"Two thirds of patients now spend time on a stroke unit where they have access to excellent post-stroke care including support for swallowing, mobility and daily living activities."

And he added a new strategy was being drawn up, part of which will focus on hospital services and how patients receive information.




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