Quality of life after a first ischemic stroke

Long-term developments and correlations with changes in neurological deficit, mood and cognitive impairment


  • E. J. Jonkman,

    1. Department of Clinical Neurophysiology of the Academic Hospital “Vrije Universiteit”, P.O. Box 7057, 1007 MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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      Dept of Clinical Neurophysiology, VU Hospital, Postbox 7057, 1007 MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

  • A. W. de Weerd,

    Corresponding author
    1. “Westeinde Hospital”, PO. Box 432, 2501 CK The Hague, The Netherlands
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  • N. L. H. Vrijens

    1. “Westeinde Hospital”, PO. Box 432, 2501 CK The Hague, The Netherlands
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Dept of Clinical Neurophysiology, Westeinde Hospital. Postbox 432, 2501 CK The Hague, The Netherlands


Background – Studies on determinants of quality of life (QOL) after a stroke focus on one aspect (most important: neurological deficit, mood disorders or cognitive failure) and as such provide no insight in the relative contribution of each factor on QOL. The groups of patients studied often contain victims of different types of stroke. This inhomogenity in patients leads to further confusion about QOL after stroke. Objective – To evaluate in one study factors important for QOL in the period 3–12 months after a first one-sided ischemic stroke in the region of the middle cerebral artery. Design – Measures for QOL (Sickness Impact Profile, SIP), cognitive status (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale revised), mood and neurological deficit were scored 3, 6 and 12 months after the stroke. Setting – Successive patients admitted to a general hospital and rehabilitation clinic in The Hague, The Netherlands. Patients – A complete examination was performed three times in 35 patients. The results were compared to those of 20 controls matched for age, last occupation and educational level. Results – There was no significant neurological improvement between 3 and 12 months after the stroke. Cognition was impaired when compared to the estimated premorbid level and to the controls. There was incomplete recovery over the study interval. The patients as a group were depressed and remained so over the period of the study. The resulting quality of life scores were abnormal at 3 months and improved only slightly. Stepwise regression analysis revealed that depression and degree of paresis were the most important variables for the SIPtotal outcome. Conclusions – In a homogenous group of stroke patients the QOL improved somewhat in the period 3 to 12 months after the stroke but was still highly abnormal after 1 year. The decrease in QOL was correlated with depression and – to some degree – with neurological deficit, but not to cognitive disturbances.