Stroke victims’ carers liable to stress illness

Some carers of stroke survivors suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition normally associated with people who have engaged in military combat.

A new study shows that people who suffer from PTSD have recurring, distressing memories and flashbacks to traumatic events, which can cause anxiety, health problems or personality changes.

Carers of stroke survivors with subarachnoid brain haemorrhages, a condition where blood leaks over the brain’s surface causing brain damage, were three times more likely to suffer from PTSD than the general population.

The study, presented at this week’s UK Stroke Forum conference in Harrogate, was led by doctoral research student Adam Nobel and colleagues at Durham University, with assistance from Newcastle General Hospital and James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Nobel said: “What is worrying is that these significant others receive little medical attention as they often act as informal carers. Their psychological health problems could affect the levels of care they are able to give and thus reduce the patient’s chances of a good recovery.”

The research found that carers had nightmares about the brain haemorrhage or broke out in sweat and had a raised heart beat when they thought about it.

Nobel added that early detection of how well carers deal with stressful situations could help prevent PTSD developing.

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Stroke patients lack social work support, Royal College of Physicians finds

Social care for stroke survivors: special report

Further information
UK Stroke Forum

The Stroke Association

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