Stroke is an unfortunate occurrence for many patients. More than 140,000 patients die from stroke in the United States each year. Stroke is the leading cause of serious long term disability in this country. 795,000 people have strokes in the US each year with about 600,000 of them for the first time and the rest for the second or third time. There are many more statistics associated with stroke, and they all underscore the need for prevention and treatment.

One of the treatments that is usually applied to patients with stroke when they first come to the hospital is oxygen therapy. Patients are usually placed on some oxygen by nasal cannula or mask regardless of their oxygen reading and the therapy is often continued throughout the hospitalization. A large study of over 7,600 patients was conducted to see if the use of oxygen was helpful in improving stroke symptoms or recovery. Patients were studied both during the day and at night while sleeping. Keep in mind that the patients studied were ones that demonstrated normal oxygen levels on admission and during the first 72 hours of their hospital stay.

No benefit was found in the patients with otherwise normal levels during the day or at night. What does this mean for future care of stroke victims? In reality, I doubt that the practice of routinely using oxygen on every stroke patient will end soon. It does mean that every stroke patient should have their oxygen level monitored appropriately.