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Bowel obstruction more likely in certain hospitalized stroke patients

Being older patients, black and having pre-existing illnesses, such as cancer, increase the likelihood of bowel obstruction in hospitalized ischemic stroke patients, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2016.

Bowel obstruction complications can worsen chances for recovery.

To better define which hospitalized stroke patients are most at risk of bowel obstruction, researchers analyzed a national database of patients hospitalized for acute ischemic stroke from 2002 to 2011 and identified those who also had a diagnosis of bowel obstruction.

They found:

  • Of the 3,988,667 patients hospitalized for ischemic stroke nearly 17,000 had bowel obstruction and 4.2 percent of those patients needed repair surgery for intestinal obstruction.
  • Advanced age was one risk factor for bowel obstruction. For example, stroke patients who were 75 years or older had almost twice the risk of patients younger than 55.
  • Black stroke patients had a 42 percent higher risk than white stroke patients of bowel obstruction.
  • Patients who had pre-existing illnesses, such as cancer, and those taking medications, including blood thinners, had an elevated risk for bowel obstruction.
  • Those patients who suffered bowel obstruction while in the hospital for stroke were more likely than other stroke patients to suffer dangerous conditions, including deep vein thrombosis, blood clots in the lungs, kidney injury, severe infection and more. Researchers speculate that the extended hospitalization stay resulting from the bowel obstruction made these patients more susceptible to these complications.
  • Patients hospitalized for ischemic stroke who also had bowel obstruction were nearly three times more likely to suffer moderate to severe disability and 39 percent more likely to die in the hospital, compared to stroke patients who didn’t have the bowel obstruction.
  • The occurrence of bowel obstruction in hospitalized stroke patients increased length of stay and total hospital costs by an average of 9.7 days and $22,342.