Stroke-Associated Differences in Rates of Activity of Daily Living Loss Emerge Years Before Stroke Onset

Authors

  • Benjamin D. Capistrant ScD,

    1. Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Qianyi Wang ScM,

    1. Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Sze Y. Liu PhD,

    1. Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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  • M. Maria Glymour ScD

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
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Address Correspondence to Maria Glymour, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave, Kresge 617, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail: mglymour@hsph.harvard.edu

Abstract

Objectives

To compare typical age-related changes in activities of daily living (ADLs) independence in stroke-free adults with long-term ADL trajectories before and after stroke.

Design

Prospective, observational study.

Setting

Community-dwelling Health and Retirement Study (HRS) cohort.

Participants

HRS participants who were stroke free in 1998 and were followed through 2008 (average follow-up 7.9 years) (N = 18,441).

Measurements

Strokes were assessed using self- or proxy-report of a doctor's diagnosis and month and year of event. Logistic regression was used to compare within-person changes in odds of self-reported independence in five ADLs in those who remained stroke free throughout follow-up (n = 16,816), those who survived a stroke (n = 1,208), and those who had a stroke and did not survive to participate in another interview (n = 417). Models were adjusted for demographic and socioeconomic covariates.

Results

Even before stroke, those who later developed stroke had significantly lower ADL independence and were experiencing faster independence losses than similar-aged individuals who remained stroke free. Of those who developed a stroke, survivors experienced slower pre-stroke loss of ADL independence than those who died. ADL independence declined at the time of stroke and decline continued afterwards.

Conclusion

In adults at risk of stroke, disproportionate ADL limitations emerge well before stroke onset. Excess disability in stroke survivors should not be entirely attributed to effects of acute stroke or quality of acute stroke care. Although there are many possible causal pathways between ADL and stroke, the association may be noncausal. For example, ADL limitations may be a consequence of stroke risk factors (e.g., diabetes mellitus) or early cerebrovascular ischemia.

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