Skip to main content

Impact of living alone on the care and outcomes of patients with acute stroke

Reeves MJ, Prager M, Fang J, Stamplecoski M, Kapral MK. Stroke. 2014; 45(10):3083-5. Epub 2014 Aug 19.

Background and Purpose — Outcomes among patients living alone at stroke onset could be directly affected by reduced access to acute therapies or indirectly through the effects of social isolation. We examined the associations between living alone at home and acute stroke care and outcomes in the Registry of the Canadian Stroke Network.

Methods — Between 2003 and 2008, 10 048 patients with acute stroke (87% ischemic, 13% hemorrhagic) who were living at home were admitted to 11 Ontario hospitals. Outcomes included arrival ≤2.5 hours of onset, thrombolytic treatment, discharge home, 30-day and 1-year mortality, and 1-year readmission. The effects of living alone versus living with others were determined using multivariable logistic regression.

Results — Overall, 22.8% (n=2288) of patients were living alone at home before stroke. Subjects living alone were significantly older (mean, 74.6 versus 71.5 years), more likely to be women (61.5% versus 41.4%), widowed (53.7% versus 12.3%), or single (21.5% versus 3.8%). Patients living alone were less likely to arrive within 2.5 hours (28.3% versus 40.0%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.54; 95% confidence interval, 0.48–0.60), to receive thrombolysis (8.0% versus 14.0%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.52; 95% confidence interval, 0.43–0.63), or to be discharged home (46.0% versus 54.7%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.65; 95% confidence interval, 0.58–0.73). There were no significant associations between living alone and mortality or readmission.

Conclusions — Patients living alone had delayed hospital arrival, less thrombolytic therapy, and were less likely to return home. Greater understanding of the inter-relationships among living alone, social isolation, access to stroke care, and outcomes is needed.

Keywords: Stroke Health care delivery Social determinants of health