Strategies to maximize stroke recovery has tremendous impact to stroke patients and society. Integrating Chinese and Western medicine (WM) may improve outcomes of stroke survivors. We analyzed the electronic health records of patients hospitalized in an acute stroke unit who then visited Chinese Medicine (CM) clinics during recovery.

We identified acute stroke patients hospitalized in a university hospital over 3 years from the Clinical Management System and matched the dataset with the Chinese Medicine Information System. Data were acquired 3-months prior to 12-months after index stroke. Propensity score matching (PSM) was performed using covariates age, length of stay, sex, index stroke types, presence of atrial fibrillation, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure and valvular heart disease, with match tolerance set to 0.00001. Mortality and readmission were primary outcome measures.

Of 3690 patients (ischemic stroke, n=2665, 72%; intracerebral hemorrhage, n=548, 15%; transient ischemic attack, n=477, 13%), 3382(92%) survived the index stroke, among which 341(10%) had recurrent admissions (Table 1).  588(15.9%) received integrative CM-WM during stroke recovery. After PSM (Table 2), 231 matched patients were analyzed. A lower mortality (OR 9.2, p=0.027) was observed in the integrative medicine group as compared to WM group (overall: 14.7% vs. 24.2%; <=3 months: 0.9% vs. 4.3%; 4-12 months: 4.3% vs. 6.1%; >12 months: 9.5% vs. 13.9%). No significant difference was observed for readmission rates between two groups (10.4% vs. 9.6%, p=0.52).

Stroke survivors who underwent integrative medicine for recovery had a lower mortality without an increase in readmission.