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Stroke victims show stress symptoms

A study has revealed that recognising the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in stroke victims could aid their recovery.

Scientists examining more than 100 brain haemorrhage survivors found that over one third tested positive for the disorder, suffering flashbacks and painful memories of their haemorrhage, as well as extreme anxiety and chronic fatigue.

The psychological condition more commonly affects soldiers posted in war zones.

Researchers found that post-traumatic stress disorder significantly affected patients' recovery and whether they were able to resume a normal life, even if the actual brain damage caused by their type of stroke - known as subarachnoid haemorrhage - was minor.

Subarachnoid haemorrhage is a sudden leak of blood over the surface of the brain, affecting around 8,000 people in the UK every year.

Sufferers are often much younger than other stroke victims - most patients are around 55 - and many of these never return to work.

Durham University researchers say the study, published in the academic journal, Neurosurgery, shows that greater awareness of the condition following a haemorrhage is necessary, as well as early testing using simple questionnaires.

They say doctors can identify those stroke victims most at risk by assessing how they deal with stress, and patients could be offered pre-emptive treatment to teach them effective coping strategies.

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