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Thousands could benefit from greater use of revolutionary stroke treatment

Posted on November 29th 2016

Research supported by PenCLAHRC’s Dr Martin James has the potential to benefit almost 10,000 UK stroke patients a year. The study, presented at the UK Stroke Forum Conference in Liverpool today, looks at a new and more effective treatment for acute stroke.

Stroke is a serious, life-threatening and often debilitating condition, which can have a devastating impact on patients and their families. In the UK, nearly 90,000 people a year are admitted to hospital following a stroke, with many of those who survive left severely disabled.

Mechanical clot removal can substantially reduce disability, if carried out within six hours of the onset of symptoms. However, only a tiny minority of the thousands of people admitted to hospital following a stroke each year who are eligible for this procedure receive it.

Mechanical thrombectomy is a more effective treatment than clot-busting drugs alone for acute stroke caused by blockage of a large blood vessel. This treatment involves a specialist inserting a catheter into the arm or leg and removing the clot from the blood vessel to the brain using a mesh (stent) or suction.

The findings presented at the UK Stroke Forum today show that as many as one in ten stroke patients admitted to hospital - 8,770-9,750 patients each year - could benefit from this revolutionary treatment. Currently very few UK hospitals have enough specialists or the necessary support teams to provide mechanical thrombectomy 24 hours a day.

Dr Martin James, Consultant Stroke Physician at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and a researcher with PenCLAHRC, said:

“Delivering mechanical thrombectomy to the 9,000 people who need it will require major changes to the configuration and skill sets of existing acute stroke services.  We must work quickly to establish what needs to be done so that more people in the UK can benefit from a treatment which can dramatically reduce disability after a stroke, as well as cutting associated costs to the NHS and social care.”

Prof Stuart Logan, Director NIHR PenCLAHRC said:

“I am delighted about the results of this study and the CLAHRC’s continued involvement in research around treatments for patients who have suffered a stroke.  We hope that this will lead to further collaborative work within this group and ultimately improved outcomes and experiences for patients.”

The study was carried out by researchers from Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Oxford Academic Health Science Network (Oxford AHSN) and the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care - South West Peninsula (NIHR PenCLAHRC).

This story also featured by the Guardian, BBC news, webMD, PharmaTimes and was discussed on Radio 4's Today show.

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