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Home Industry News Thousands of lives saved if stroke action is swift

Thousands of lives saved if stroke action is swift

23rd July 2008

Thousands of lives could be saved if all people suspected of having a stroke were admitted as quickly as possible to an acute stroke unit, experts said today.

The claim comes as the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) launch the latest guidelines on how medical professionals should treat stroke, the UK’s third biggest killer.

At present just one in five suspected stroke patients is admitted directly to an acute stroke unit but the guidelines say all should be admitted to such a unit within 24 hours.

They should then be assessed to see if they are eligible for thrombolysis (clot-busting drugs). It is estimated that about 4,500 people could be prevented from being disabled through stroke if they were given these drugs.

The RCP and NICE say all hospitals receiving acute medical admissions that include patients with stroke should have a specialist acute stoke unit.

The Department of Health is undertaking a full review of stroke services to reorganise and improve stroke care and Dr Tony Judd, chair of the NICE guideline development group, said the latest recommendations require “a radical restructuring of health services”.

“Instead of waiting weeks to be assessed after a transient ischaemic attack, by which time many people will already have had their stroke, the expectation should now be that patients who are at high risk are seen and treated within 24 hours,” he added.

Commenting on the recommendations, Joe Korner, director of communications at the Stroke Association, said: “These guidelines show exactly what treatment and care everyone should get if they have a stroke.”

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