Opportunities to prevent strokes being missed, says new research

16 November 2016        

Category: BHF Comment


More than half of people who suffered their first stroke between 2009 and 2013 were not prescribed drugs that could have significantly lowered their risk, according to new research from the University of Birmingham.  

The research, published today in PLOS Medicine, estimates that approximately 12,000 strokes could be prevented in the UK each year through optimal prescribing of preventative drugs, including statins

Patients judged to be at high risk of stroke and those who have high blood pressure or are living with atrial fibrillation are eligible for drugs to lower their risk of a stroke. 

However, when the researchers looked at 29,043 patients records for people who had suffered a first stroke or mini-stroke called a TIA, they found that 17,680 (54%) hadn’t been prescribed either drugs to lower blood pressure, a statin, or drugs to prevent blood clots.

A ‘stark warning’ 

Responding to the study, our associate medical director, Dr Mike Knapton said: “More than 40,000 people die from a stroke every year in the UK, while thousands more are left with devastating disabilities. BHF funded research has shown that many strokes and heart attacks can be prevented by offering high risk patients anticoagulants, lipid lowering drugs and medications to ensure optimal management of raised blood pressure.”

“This study offers a stark warning that we’re missing opportunities to give many people the preventative treatments that could save their lives. While prescribing more drugs isn’t the answer for every patient, we need to better understand why this is happening and work with clinicians to improve outcomes for patients.”

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Despite our research leading to advances in treating stroke, more than 650 people go to hospital with a stroke every day. Your support could help fund the research that could improve the prevention and treatment of strokes, helping to save more lives.