Stroke-associated differences in rates of activity of daily living loss emerge years before stroke onset

Benjamin D. Capistrant, Qianyi Wang, Sze Y. Liu, M. Maria Glymour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives To compare typical age-related changes in activities of daily living (ADLs) independence in stroke-free adults with long-term ADL trajectories before and after stroke. Design Prospective, observational study. Setting Community-dwelling Health and Retirement Study (HRS) cohort. Participants HRS participants who were stroke free in 1998 and were followed through 2008 (average follow-up 7.9 years) (N = 18,441). Measurements Strokes were assessed using self- or proxy-report of a doctor's diagnosis and month and year of event. Logistic regression was used to compare within-person changes in odds of self-reported independence in five ADLs in those who remained stroke free throughout follow-up (n = 16,816), those who survived a stroke (n = 1,208), and those who had a stroke and did not survive to participate in another interview (n = 417). Models were adjusted for demographic and socioeconomic covariates. Results Even before stroke, those who later developed stroke had significantly lower ADL independence and were experiencing faster independence losses than similar-aged individuals who remained stroke free. Of those who developed a stroke, survivors experienced slower pre-stroke loss of ADL independence than those who died. ADL independence declined at the time of stroke and decline continued afterwards. Conclusion In adults at risk of stroke, disproportionate ADL limitations emerge well before stroke onset. Excess disability in stroke survivors should not be entirely attributed to effects of acute stroke or quality of acute stroke care. Although there are many possible causal pathways between ADL and stroke, the association may be noncausal. For example, ADL limitations may be a consequence of stroke risk factors (e.g., diabetes mellitus) or early cerebrovascular ischemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-938
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • activities of daily living
  • disability
  • longitudinal
  • mortality
  • older adults
  • stroke


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