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Lying flat after stroke achieves similar outcomes to sitting up, trial finds

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 23 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j3051
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

Positioning patients who have had an acute ischaemic stroke so that they lie flat does not improve outcomes more than sitting them up, a large randomised trial shows,1 after a debate about whether head position affects stroke recovery.

Previous studies have found that laying patients flat in the 24 hours after an acute ischaemic stroke may improve recovery and reduce disability by increasing blood flow through the main arteries to the brain. Concerns were raised, however, that this could increase the risk of pneumonia. This uncertainty has resulted in ambiguous guidelines and variations in clinical practice.

The lead author, …

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