Stroke costs are still high

24 October 2014

New analysis from Monash University has determined that the long-term costs of suffering a stroke is still high. 

The research, published in the journal Stroke, is the first to investigate the long-term costs of suffering the two most common types: ischemic where the blood supply stops due to a blood clot, and hemorrhagic, which occurs when a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts.

Previous studies has suggested that after an expensive first year, costs dropped for the years after. However, the Monash study has contradicted this, stating that both personal and healthcare remains a significant expense ten years after a stroke is suffered.

Led by associate professor Dominique Cadilhac and Professor Amanda Thrift from the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, the latest findings provides evidence that there is  a great long-term impact of suffering a stroke, with aftercare being the biggest expense.

For the North East Melbourne Stroke Incidence Study, the team looked at 243 patients who experienced an ischemic stroke – the most common type of stroke, and 43 patients who suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage stroke and survived at least ten years after the incident. All participants were interviewed to try and calculate their annual spend as part of the research.

According to the findings, the average annual health costs ten years after an ischemic stroke were $5,418 (AUD) (£2,969), which was found to be very similar to the expense between three or five years after the incident ($5,545).

The research found that long-term costs after a stroke were significantly higher than previous studies had suggested. Professor Cadilhac's team found the true cost was $9,032 far higher - significantly higher than the costs for three to five years ($6,101) after because of a greater need for aged care facilities ten years on.

Professor Dominique Cadilhac said investing into new procedures and medication to prevent stroke is vital as it is a global killer.

"Stroke affects thousands of people and in many cases requires ongoing medical support. We know the condition is costly to treat especially in the first year, but little data existed on the long term healthcare and personal costs, as well as the impact on the workforce, until now," she said.

"We now have a much better picture of the long term costs of stroke. Our research confirms there is no decline in costs beyond five years for survivors of stroke, in fact medical and other costs including those incurred by caregivers continue for many years," Professor Cadilhac added.

The team hopes these new findings will help provide important current practice estimates for economic evaluations of the potential impact of new or existing interventions to reduce the impact of stroke.

Professor Cadilhac said the study suggests the long-term medical costs for stroke patients with stroke have been underestimated.

"The large majority of strokes that are due to modifiable risk factors, such as high blood pressure or diabetes," she said.

Posted by Philip Briggs​

 

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