Wednesday 19 June 2019

Over 60pc of stroke patients not arriving at A&E in time to have optimum treatment

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

More than 60pc of people who suffer a stroke are not making it to hospital emergency departments in the ideal time frame, specialists warned yesterday.

The success of acute treatment of stroke is extremely time-dependent, the Oireachtas Health Committee was told.

The doctors called for a relaunch of the Act-FAST campaign, which raised awareness among the public about being aware of the symptoms of a stroke.

Prof Rónán Collins, Dr Diarmuid O'Shea and Prof Ken McDonald were appearing before the committee.

The doctors said that a "third to a half of all strokes may be prevented through lifestyle change, management of blood pressure and identification of an irregular heart rhythm".

A "nationwide approach to cardiovascular disease prevention is needed", they said.

Admission to a stroke unit is the foundation of all stroke care and reduces death and disability by 25pc.

"To achieve optimum patient outcomes, all acute stroke patients should be managed in an acute stroke unit," they said.

However, there are still a few hospitals without an acute stroke unit receiving stroke patient.

Dr Collins said that the delivery of emergency clot-busting drugs to stroke patients rose from 1pc in 2008 to 12pc in 2016.

This was in keeping with European norms, he said.

Clot-busting drugs are most effective if started as soon as possible after the stroke occurs.

It isn't generally recommended if more than four-and-a-half hours have passed, as it's not clear how beneficial it is when used after this time. Before it can be used, the patient must undergo a brain scan to confirm a diagnosis of an ischaemic stroke.

The medication can make the bleeding that occurs in haemorrhagic strokes worse.

The mortality rates from stroke has reduced from 19pc to 12pc.

Discharge to a nursing home, indicating the stroke patient is left with a level of disability, had remained constant at around 15pc, the Oireachtas committee was told.

How thinking Fast could save a life

FAST, or Face-Arms-Speech-Time, is easy to remember and helps people recognise if someone else is having a stroke.

  • Face - has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms - can they raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech - is their speech slurred?
  • Time - it is time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs of a stroke.

There are also other symptoms that may occasionally be due to stroke. They include:

  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes;
  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of your body (including your leg);
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion;
  • Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms.

You can contact Irish Heart Foundation on freephone 1800 25 25 50.

Irish Independent

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