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Changing the story for future stroke survivors.

5 October, 2017

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association, talks about the recently published research report on stroke prevention.

Last week we published our latest report, generously supported by Legal & General, which reveals that over 110,000 people could be saved from having a stroke by 2035.

The report, Current, future and avoidable costs of stroke in the UK, warns that over the next 20 years, more people every year will be living with stroke, and by 2035 there will be over two million stroke survivors in the UK, with around 700,000 living with long-term disabilities. However, the findings also reveal that a £10 million investment into prevention research could change the story and save 114,000 people from having a stroke.

We hope these figures will serve as a much-needed wake-up call to the wider public. Far too many people wrongly believe that strokes only happen to older people, and think the condition could never happen to them. But it’s a sad fact that stroke is the UK’s fourth biggest killer, and it’s a leading cause of disability.

High blood pressure, which affects millions of us, and the condition atrial fibrillation (AF), can both lead to devastating strokes.  But the good news is that many of these strokes can be prevented. Our challenge now is to change the story and help as many people as possible reduce their risk of stroke.

Increased investment into stroke research is crucial if we are to turn the tide for people with a higher risk of stroke. Stroke causes a greater range of disabilities than any other condition, but research into stroke remains underfunded. For example, haemorrhagic stroke is the most deadly type of stroke, and those patients who do survive are more likely to experience severe disability. But currently there are no effective treatments for these strokes, which are caused by bleeds rather than clots in the brain.  We urgently need to find effective ways to prevent the devastation that haemorrhagic stroke can bring, as well preventing and managing conditions with a higher risk of stroke, such as AF and high blood pressure.

Our report highlights some of the key areas that desperately need research funding. We are currently funding a number of smaller studies focusing on stroke prevention, including blood pressure management, treatments for atrial fibrillation (AF), and the prevention of haemorrhagic stroke in the future. These latest findings show that a £10 million investment into these types of studies could save over 110,000 people from having a stroke by 2035.

Professor Anita Patel, who led the research, has said: “Our findings suggest that more people are likely to survive stroke over the next 20 years, and by 2035 many hundreds of thousands of stroke survivors will be living with long-term disabilities.

“Increasing our investment into stroke research will help us turn the tide for people with a higher risk of stroke, allowing us to take steps to prevent the condition more widely. For example, we know that current treatments for high blood pressure do not work for everyone, and are not always used properly. More research could help us discover which medication and dosage works best for different people, ensuring we can help prevent more people from having a stroke. This is in turn would help to ease the pressure on the already overstretched NHS budgets.”

The study was undertaken at Queen Mary University of London and London School of Economics. The researchers took into account likely changes to the population, as well as expert views on potential future trends in the numbers of first-time strokes and survivors after stroke each year when calculating these latest projections. The team also estimated the benefits of investing more funds into stroke research.

The Stroke Association’s Change The Story campaign aims to raise funds for research that will reduce the number of strokes and help stroke survivors make the best recovery. For more information, visit https://www.stroke.org.uk/donate/change-story


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