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Contact: Darcy Spitz
American Heart Association

Stroke patients should receive customized palliative care

American Heart Association/American Stroke Association scientific statement

People recovering from a stroke should have a well-coordinated medical team to personalize care, optimize quality of life and minimize suffering, according to a scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

The statement is the first in the United States to outline fundamental palliative care for stroke survivors. Palliative care is patient- and family-centered care that improves life by anticipating, preventing and treating suffering.

"The majority of stroke patients need access to some form of palliative medicine," said Robert Holloway, M.D., M.P.H., lead author of the statement and professor and chairman of the neurology department at the University of Rochester in Rochester in New York. "The stroke team and its members can manage many of the palliative care problems themselves. It encourages patient independence and informed choices."

Palliative care should be a collaboration between patients, families, a stroke team and various providers, including neurologists, neurosurgeons, primary care providers, nurses and therapists, he said.

As a stroke survivor or family member, you should expect your healthcare provider to:

"Stroke is a devastating disease that has received little attention in the area of palliative care so far," Holloway said.

Nearly 800,000 people have strokes annually. About 130,000 stroke-related deaths occur in America yearly. Up to 30 percent of all survivors are permanently disabled.


Co-authors are Robert Arnold, M.D.; Claire Creutzfeldt, M.D.; Eldrin Lewis, M.D., M.P.H.; Barbara Lutz, Ph.D., R.N.; Robert McCann, M.D.; Alejandro Rabinstein, M.D.; Gustavo Saposnik, M.D., M.Sc.; Kevin Sheth, M.D.; Darin Zahuranec, M.D., M.S.; Gregory Zipfel, M.D. and Richard Zorowitz, M.D.

For the latest heart and stroke news, follow us on Twitter: @HeartNews.

For stroke science, follow the Stroke journal at @StrokeAHA_ASA.

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