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Stroke victims 'have post traumatic stress'.

THE diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder in stroke victims could aid their recovery, a study by North East researchers has said.

The distressing psychological condition is more commonly known to affect soldiers who have fought in war zones. However, a study of more than 100 brain haemorrhage survivors found that more than one third tested positive for the disorder, displaying symptoms such as painful memories and flashbacks of their haemorrhage, extreme anxiety and chronic fatigue.

Researchers found that post-traumatic stress disorder impacted greatly on the stroke patients' recovery and their ability to resume a normal life, even if the actual brain damage caused by their type of stroke, called subarachnoid haemorrhage, was minor. Subarachnoid haemorrhage affects about 8,000 people in the UK each year and is a sudden leak of blood over the surface of the brain.

The scientists say this type of stroke has a high cost for society because it afflicts much younger people than other types of stroke - most patients are about 55 - and a large proportion of these do not return to work following the haemorrhage.

Tests for post-traumatic stress disorder are currently not part of the usual care of subarachnoid haemorrhage victims.

But researchers at Durham University say the findings of the study, published in the academic journal Neurosurgery, point to the need for greater awareness of the condition following a haemorrhage and early testing using simple questionnaires. The findings could lead to significant improvements in the recovery of subarachnoid haemorrhage patients.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 26, 2009
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