Finally in the news for nurses this week, I have a look at what home care nurses might want to do to support the home caregiver of that person you are assigned to visit. There is new research into the effects on the home or family caregiver when they have long term care of a spouse or other family member. It may be putting them at increased risk for cardiovascular events like a stroke.

Almost Double The Risk For Stroke

home caregiver stroke riskI found this article over at HealthDay.com and it looked at a study which found there was a ninety-five percent higher risk of stroke in home caregivers when compared to someone of the same age and profile who didn’t have to care for someone at home. The study comes from the University of Alabama at Birmingham where the lead author discovered the need for the study while following physicians in the stroke unit and noting an unusual number of patients who had been the primary caregiver for a family patient at home.

Other experts are not surprised by the findings. Stress puts the body in that fight or flight mode. We know that. We also know that prolonged and repetitive stress over time puts our bodies at increased risk for chronic inflammatory responses in the body. Arteries harden more quickly and narrow, heightening the risk for a blood clot to be trapped in the brain before it can be dismantled by the bodies own defenses.

The researchers looked at over 3,000 home caregivers and compared them to a similar number of non-caregiver all of whom were over the age of 45 years of age. During the study’s follow-up over more than 8 years, researchers found that stroke levels were higher in those who reported the most stress from the family care they provided.

These are under supported patients in our healthcare system and it is an area that needs assessment in the home care setting. Remember this if you are in home care or are discharging a patient home to such care.

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Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Toxic Water Testing by Nurses and Episode 388.

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