Some stroke patients become more fatigued afterwards: Research

Oslo [Norway], February 14 (ANI): Every year, around 9,000 persons are admitted to Norwegian hospitals with stroke. Approximately half of these patients report feeling weary after the stroke, and many reports sleeping more throughout the day than they did before the stroke. These side effects are difficult to deal with and have a substantial impact on patient’s daily lives.

However, we still have a limited grasp of the mechanisms that contribute to increased fatigue and daytime sleep following a stroke. As a result, our study team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) intended to see if cognitive and emotional problems are linked to greater weariness and sleep during the day.

The findings were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology.

Our analyses show that patients who report poorer memory and concentration three months following stroke have a higher risk of being more fatigued and sleeping more during the day at twelve months.

The same applies to patients who report major anxiety and depressive symptoms three months after the stroke.

Cognitive and emotional complaints are thus both important factors for increased daytime sleep and fatigue after a stroke. This finding was also evident when we took into account other factors such as age, sex, the severity of the stroke and quality of sleep at night, as well as their relationship to each other over time.

The study was carried out by collaborating researchers in the Vascular Diseases Research Group (VaD) at NTNU and researchers from the Department for Health Service Research (HOKH) at Akershus University Hospital.

Ramune Grambaite heads the group at NTNU. She is an associate professor in clinical neuropsychology and clinical manager of the Neuropsychological Outpatient Clinic at NTNU’s Department of Psychology. Elisabeth Kliem is the PhD candidate in the research group and the first author of this article.

We used data from NORSPOT, a study that was carried out at Akershus University Hospital between 2012 and 2013. In that study, stroke patients answered questionnaires three and twelve months after their stroke. The patient sample in our study had relatively mild strokes and had no known cognitive or emotional challenges before the stroke.

Both cognitive and emotional problems are common after a stroke. Our results show the importance of following up on these complaints in the subacute phase after the stroke.

We can reduce the risk of increased fatigue and need for sleep in the long term if we manage to identify and treat stroke patients who struggle cognitively and emotionally.

This study is an important step towards a better understanding of fatigue and the increased need for sleep following a stroke. Cognitive and emotional problems after a stroke are often not detected in the routine follow-up but have the potential to greatly affect the patient’s everyday life. (ANI)