Press release by Portugal AVC
The Portuguese association of stroke survivors – PT.AVC – cautions about the consequences of the current health crisis on stroke care. Stroke is the first cause of death and disability in Portugal.
In a survey performed between 20th and 27th April and to which 868 Portuguese stroke survivors responded, 91% of all patients indicated for rehabilitation treatment reported that they had to stop or were unable to start this intervention. This is particularly worrisome as there is compelling evidence that delays in rehabilitation are associated with a greater likelihood of long-term disability, thus undermining social integration and leading to worse quality of life.
Moreover, only 15% of the respondents had their follow-up medical visits since the beginning of the pandemic and, amongst those stroke survivors still under medical attention, about half had also their scheduled medical examinations cancelled or postponed.
Overall, about one third of the respondents reported felling that their health was worse or much worse than before the outbreak and, among those who had a stroke within the previous year, this proportion raised to 50%.
Most of the participants confirmed several complaints, such as feeling anxious, experiencing worsening of motor and/or speech difficulties and increased concerns with regards to recovery and risk of stroke recurrence.
Importantly, 38% stated that the current situation is having a negative effect on their financial situation, which we know is often already impaired.
PT.AVC thus emphasises that, during the reopening phase that is now starting, investment in expansion, adaptation and reorganization of rehabilitation services is imperative, with maintained quality. The Portuguese association of stroke survivors also highlights that all efforts have to be done to maintain rehabilitation care, which should be considered in future decisions as an essential health service for priority cases, and warns stakeholders that it is crucial to avoid the serious consequences that inappropriate stroke care has in the prognosis of affected patients, which can potentially lead to even more devastating consequences that those related with the coronavirus infection itself.