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Introduction: Each year 7 million people die of stroke worldwide; most deaths are caused by chest infections. Patients with acute stroke have impaired voluntary cough flow, associated with increased risk of chest infections. Reduced functional residual capacity (FRC) could lead to impaired cough flow. We therefore compared FRC in acute hemiparetic stroke patients and controls and explored its relationship with volume inspired before cough and voluntary cough peak flow.

Methods: 21 patients within 2 weeks of first-ever middle cerebral artery territory (MCA) infarct (mean (SD) age 68 (11) years, 10 females) and 30 controls (58 (11) years, 15 females) underwent FRC and voluntary cough testing (cough inspired volume and peak flow) while semirecumbent. FRC was expressed as % predicted; cough inspired volume was expressed as % predicted VC and cough peak flow as % predicted PEF. A clinician scored stroke severity using the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS).

Results: Patients' reclined FRC, voluntary cough peak flowand cough inspired volume were reduced compared with controls (p<0.01 for all): patients' median (IQR) FRC 76 (67-90) % predicted, mean (SD) cough inspired volume 64 (20) % predicted and mean (SD) peak cough flow 61 (32) % predicted despite them having only mild stroke-related impairments: median NIHSS score 4 (IQR 2-6). Univariate linear regression analyses showed FRC predicted cough inspired volume (adjusted R2=0.45) and cough inspired volume predicted cough flow (adjusted R2=0.56); p<0.01 for both. Sitting patients upright increased their FRC by median 0.210 L.

Conclusions: FRC and cough inspired volume in the reclined position are significantly reduced in acute hemiparetic stroke patients with mild impairments; both factors are associated with poor voluntary cough peak flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e000230
JournalBMJ Open Respiratory Research
Issue number1
Early online date26 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Oct 2017


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