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Introduction Fatigue is a common complaint amongst stroke survivors. As yet, little is known about its aetiology and about possible alleviating therapeutic approaches. This study is aimed at determining the prevalence and associates of vitamin D deficiency, a likely predisposing factor of post stroke fatigue, amongst stroke survivors presenting with fatigue and to report on the impact of vitamin D supplementation on fatigue symptoms post stroke.
Methods Records of 58 consecutive stroke survivors with post stroke fatigue who had their vitamin D levels checked at presentation were reviewed and analysed. Vitamin D values below 30nmol/l were reported as deficient, values between 30-50nmol/l as insufficient and values above 50nmol/l as vitamin D replete. Comparison between proportions was assessed using Pearson Chi Square and Fishers Exact tests. All statistical analyses were carried out using the statistical package STATA.
Results A total of 58 stroke survivors (mean age 75.8 years [SD12.5], age range 37-94 years) with post stroke fatigue were included in this study. The majority of the patients were females (56.9%), aged over 75 years (65.5%), lived with a partner/relative (72.4%), were ambulant at presentation (53.4%) and had modified rankin scores (MRS) of <4(79.3%). The over-all prevalence of vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency was 74.5% while the prevalence amongst ambulant survivors was 77.4% .There were no statistically significant difference in proportions of vitamin D deficient survivors with post stroke fatigue by age, gender, mobility status, MRS, stroke type or severity. There was significant improvement in fatigue symptoms amongst those treated for whom data was available.
Conclusion Our results, though preliminary indicate a high prevalence of low vitamin D amongst stroke survivors with fatigue and especially amongst ambulant survivors where such deficiencies are unexpected; as well as improvement in fatigue symptoms following correction. If these findings are replicated in a longitudinal randomised study with a larger sample size, this can open treatment options and possibly improve the quality of life of survivors with fatigue after stroke.