According to the World Health Organization (WHO), strokes are the second most common cause of death globally. A stroke is an acute cerebrovascular disease, most prevalent in men over the age of 40, which can lead to difficulties with digestion and absorption of intestinal nutrients. To prevent nutrient deficiency, a nasogastric tube is required for EN.
Stroke treatment typically involves parenteral nutrition and EN; however, long-term use of parenteral administration can result in further catheter problems and damages to the intestinal mucosa. Additionally, patients who experience severe strokes are susceptible to diarrhea, constipation and infection within the first two weeks following EN administration.
According to a recent meta-analysis paper published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/4877311), combining probiotics with EN can be beneficial for stroke treatment.
Overall, researchers reviewed 21 randomised clinical-controlled trials and two case-controlled trials investigating the impact of probiotics on individuals recovering from stroke. They found that while the use of probiotics with EN did not lower the National Institutes of Health stroke scale (NIHSS) scores, it did shorten hospital stays and bedrest durations. Combining probiotics with EN also aided in recovery due to the resulting increase in patients' haemoglobin, albumin, total protein, and prealbumin content.
Researchers noted that probiotics “[relieved] intestinal stress and [reduced] the occurrence of adverse reactions such as oesophageal reflux, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, gastric retention, and gastrointestinal bleeding.” Additionally, the rates of lung, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract infections were reduced following probiotic intake. The combination of probiotics with EN also significantly improved inflammation in three of the five inflammation indicators, implying that probiotics paired with EN can lower inflammatory responses.
Researchers concluded: “Probiotics combined with EN group’s therapeutic effects were superior to those of the EN alone. Thus, probiotics combined with EN is worthy of both clinical application and promotion in stroke treatment.”