An observational study to examine whether thrombolytic therapy in stroke patients realizes better quality of life outcomes compared to patients without thrombolytic therapy one year after stroke. We also examined whether daily functioning, mental functioning and activities improved after thrombolytic treatment.
A total of 88 stroke patients were interviewed at home one year post-stroke. Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) was assessed using the RAND-36, disability with the Barthel Index, depression and anxiety with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and a questionnaire about patient way of life was completed. People aged under 60, moving to a nursing home or with a haemorrhage were excluded.
The thrombolysis group (TG) had more severe stroke (higher NIHSS) scores and were younger than the group without thrombolytic therapy (WTG). The primary outcome was HRQOL, which was high and nearly identical in both groups, however the TG had significantly better HRQOL for the ‘mental health’ and ‘vitality’ scales. Patients who stopped or reduced their hobbies because of stroke had a significantly worse HRQOL.
One year after stroke, more patients in the TG were totally or severely ADL dependent (12% TG and 0% WTG, p=0.022). The level of dependence decreased in the TG (p=0.042) and worsened in the WTG (p<0.001) after one year. Being more dependent is related to diminishing daily occupations in both groups. In the TG the level of dependence had less impact on visiting family and friends and going on holiday. The prevalence of anxiety disorder and depression was low compared to other studies and there is no significant difference between the two groups.
No major differences in the primary outcome (HRQOL) could be found between the two groups. In addition, no essential difference could be found in mental functioning and participation. We expected that patients undergoing thrombolytic therapy would have worse quality of life because of the greater initial severity of their stroke. Therefore, thrombolytic therapy seems to be of great importance in achieving better quality of life in ischemic stroke patients who respond to this therapy.