INTRODUCTION: Nutritional status among stroke patients has received limited attention despite the fact, that it may have an influence on clinical outcome. Previous studies have estimated that 15-20 % of patients suffer from malnutrition in the acute phase of stroke, but so far no studies have focused on the late rehabilitation phase after stroke in the patients own home, where the attention on nutrition may be reduced. AIMS: To determine the prevalence of malnutrition during 6 months of stroke rehabilitation, and to investigate the association between nutritional status, functional recovery, length of stay in hospital and infectious complications. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: 89 patients with ischemic stroke consecutively admitted to a geriatric stroke rehabilitation unit had their nutritional status evaluated in the hospital at 1 week and 5 weeks after stroke, and in their own home at 3 months and 6 months. Nutritional status was evaluated by body weight, body mass index (BMI), mid upper arm circumference (MAC), triceps skinfold thickness (TSF) and serum concentrations of albumin and transferrin. Malnutrition was defined if the patients had 2 or more abnormal nutritional variables. RESULTS: We found a significant increase in albumin from 1 week to 6 months (P < 0.0001), and a significant increase in transferrin form 5 weeks to 6 months (P < 0.05). There was no significant change in weight or BMI from 1 week to 6 months. The number of patients with 2 or more abnormal nutritional variables was 31 (35 %) at 1 week and was reduced to 20 (22 %) at 6 months. CONCLUSION: 35 % of elderly patients with ischemic stroke admitted to a geriatric rehabilitation unit were malnourished 1 week after stroke. Particularly serum proteins and body fat were affected. Follow-up of nutritional variables showed improvement for serum proteins, and 22 % of the patients were malnourished 6 months after stroke.
Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, 2007, Vol 11(1), Issue 75-9