Dis­ease that kills the brain

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

A scan is es­sen­tial for ac­cu­rate di­ag­no­sis hours and one for ev­ery 14 at four and a half hours. So time is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal.

Rais­ing public aware­ness of the symp­toms of stroke through the Fast cam­paign, train­ing the paramedics to iden­tify pos­si­ble stroke rapidly and get­ting the pa­tient to a hos­pi­tal set up to re­ceive stroke pa­tients re­gard­less of the time of day or day of the week, is vi­tal.

A new treat­ment has re­cently been shown in re­search tri­als to be ef­fec­tive and some­how we are go­ing to need to find a way of mak­ing it widely avail­able in the health ser­vice. It in­volves di­rectly putting a wire into the blood ves­sel that is blocked, snar­ing the blood clot and pulling it out. This treat­ment for a small pro­por­tion of the stroke pop­u­la­tion can be life-trans­form­ing.

How­ever good the early treat­ment, there will in­evitably still be many peo­ple left with dis­abil­ity as a con­se­quence of stroke. Skil­ful care by the team of ther­a­pists, nurses and doc­tors work­ing with the pa­tient and their fam­ily can get some­one from be­ing bed­bound and un­able to do any­thing for them­selves to some­one in­de­pen­dent with a good qual­ity of life.

Re­cov­ery can take many months or in some cases years, so treat­ment must not be stopped too early. Much of this should take place once the per­son is back in their own home.

U n f o r t u - nately about 10 and 20 per cent of peo­ple who have a stroke wil l di e a s a r e s u l t . Mak­ing sure that the pa­tient dies with dig­nity and with­out suf­fer­ing is as im­por­tant an as­pect of stroke care as the other treat­ments dis­cussed.

We should be en­abling this to hap­pen i n peo­ple’s own homes rather than in hos­pi­tal wher­ever pos­si­ble, with the nec­es­sary sup­port avail­able for ev­ery­one con­cerned.

It is time we as a com­mu­nity started tak­ing stroke se­ri­ously.

It may not be a “fash­ion­able” dis­ease that at­tracts the same de­gree of sym­pa­thy and at­ten­tion as can­cer or child­hood dis­eases but with proper treat­ment and more re­search fund­ing we could hugely re­duce the im­pact of the dis­ease both by pre­vent­ing it in the first place and min­imis­ing its ef­fects when it does oc­cur.

Be­tween 10 and 20 per cent of peo­ple who suf­fer a stroke die

Pro­fes­sor Tony Rudd is NHS Eng­land’s na­tional clin­i­cal di­rec­tor for strokes. This is a ver­sion of his lec­ture given at last week’s Jewish Care Health In­sights ses­sion. For more in­for­ma­tion about the Health In­sights events, hosted by Jewish Care in part­ner­ship with the JC, go to www.jew­ish­care.org/health-in­sightevenings or call 0208 922 2837

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