Could a poor diet increase the risk of post-stroke falls?

Researchers from UEA and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital are launching a new study to help reduce the number of falls and fractures for patients recovering from a stroke.

They will investigate whether patients who suffer a stroke are more likely to have a subsequent fall or fracture when their diet is poor.

Prof Ailsa Welch, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “In the UK, more than 100,000 people experience a stroke every year, with falls one of the most common complications afterwards.

“Ultimately, we want to find out whether improvements to stroke patients’ diets could help reduce their risk of having a fall.”

The research team will look at the data of all the people admitted to NNUH who suffered a stroke over the last 10 years to see if there’s an association between their nutritional blood tests results and being re-admitted for a fall and/or fracture.

They will then conduct a systematic review to see if previous research studies have found an association between the nutritional status of stroke patients and subsequent falls and/or fractures.

Prof Welch said: “I’m so pleased to be collaborating with my NNUH and UEA colleagues on this important project, and contributing my research experience in nutrition, stroke and fracture risk.”

The NNUH Research Capability Fund (RCF) has awarded £12,500 for the year-long project, set up by dietitian Eliza Tassone – who is part of the neurosciences team at NNUH.

She said: “I’m really passionate about improving and advocating for the nutrition of our patients and getting funded to do research alongside my clinical work is a real privilege.

“I really hope this leads to improved outcomes for our stroke patients. Nutrition is still a relatively young field and in neurology we don’t have a great deal of nutritional guidelines, so it’s exciting to be able to contribute to the evidence base.

“We know that falling once is a strong predictor of falling again after a stroke and that people who have experienced a fall post-stroke are at risk of developing a fear of falling and becoming socially withdrawn.

“If we find out that poor nutritional status is associated with falls and fractures post-stroke, we’ll be able to provide patients with more targeted nutritional interventions and information to potentially reduce the incidence, preventing further hospital admissions and costs to the NHS.”

Eliza is working with dietitians Kris Howell, Emma Lines, Amanda Branford and Rachael Checkland, and stroke consultant Dr Kneale Metcalf – all from NNUH, as well as physiotherapist Dr Kath Mares and dietitians Dr Lee Hooper and Prof Ailsa Welch – from UEA.

In the picture from left: UEA registered dietitian & Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology Professor Ailsa Welch, UEA research physiotherapist Dr Kath Mares, NNUH stroke consultant Dr Kneale Metcalf, UEA research dietitian Dr Lee Hooper, NNUH dietitians Emma Lines, Kris Howell, Eliza Tassone, Rachael Checkland, Amanda Branford.

Study Medicine at UEA

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