(HealthDay News) — Caring for a spouse who has had a stroke can harm both mental and physical health, according to research published online Aug. 20 in Stroke.
Josefine Persson, of the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues collected data on 248 stroke survivors under 70 years old and their spouses. The researchers compared them with 245 husbands and wives of people who did not have a stroke and found they scored lower on tests of mental and physical well-being than people with healthy spouses. Their vitality and social life also suffered, not only in the first years after stroke, but over many years.
At the seven-year follow-up, spouses of stroke survivors had more health problems of their own, including pain, than those whose partners had not had a stroke. They also scored lower than the other spouses on all measures of physical and mental functioning. Moreover, 16.5 percent of survivors had suffered another stroke. The more care the stroke patient needed, the greater the stress and social restrictions for the healthy spouse.
“It is important for society to provide support to the spouses to prevent or reduce the burden of stress and strain,” Persson told HealthDay.