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Hospital death rate for most common form of stroke rises for first time in a decade


Professor Joe Harbison, national clinical lead for stroke

Professor Joe Harbison, national clinical lead for stroke

Professor Joe Harbison, national clinical lead for stroke

The hospital death rate for the most common form for stroke has risen for the first time in a decade.

The worrying turnaround in mortality for patients suffering ischaemic stroke (caused by a restriction in blood supply to the brain) shows an increases from 76 deaths per 1,000 admitted patients in 2018 to 80 per 1,000 last year.

The death rate for haemorrhagic stroke (caused by bleeding on the brain) has not fallen significantly, although it is down from 264 per 1,000 admissions in 2010 to 241 per 1,000 last year.

Commenting on the rise in ischaemic stroke deaths rates, Professor Joe Harbison, former national clinical lead for stroke, said: “We are still deficient in number and quality of acute stroke unit beds compared with comparable countries so there is potential further improvement in care.”

Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential. The sooner a person receives treatment, the less damage is likely to happen and the stronger the chance of survival.

There was also a rise in death rate from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the name for a group of lung conditions causing breathing difficulties, including emphysema.

It has risen from 33 deaths per 1,000 admissions in 2010 to 37 deaths per 1,000 last year, which is also not seen as statistically significant.

There was better news for heart attack patients their death rate has fallen significantly since 2000, down from 72 per 1,000 admissions to 47 per 1,000 last year. Deaths from heart failure also decreased.

Deaths from pneumonia also continue to drop in the last decade – from 142 per 1,000 in 2010 to 103 per 1,000 last year.

The hospital mortality figures are contained in the annual report of the National Audit of Hospital Mortality, which will publish a more in-depth report on stroke care tomorrow.

Tallaght Hospital, Beaumont Hospital, Cork University Hospital and St John’s Hospital Limerick were “statistical outliers” for different illnesses but the report said they carried out reviews and there were no issues of concern raised.

The report said the figures should not be seen as a hospital league table for various factors including the different patient profiles and also the fact that some hospitals are specialist centres which receive a significant number patients transferred from elsewhere.

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University Hospital Waterford has the lowest deaths from ischaemic stroke per 1,000 admissions, at 63 per 1,000, followed by Sligo University Hospital at 67 per 1,000 admissions.

The highest rate of 166 deaths per 1,000 from this form of stroke was in Cork University Hospital with Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda at 122 deaths per 1,000.

The hospital with the highest heart attack death rate was St James’s Hospital Dublin in Dublin followed by the Mater Hospital, which are two large centres for receiving transferred patients.

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