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Risk of death from stroke falls by 24%


The risk of death and disability after a stroke fell significantly between 2000 and 2015 and an estimated 6,300 more patients annually are surviving their stroke, according to research supported by the NIHR.

Stroke is a serious condition that occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Stroke is the fourth single leading cause of death in England and Wales, and the third biggest cause of death in Scotland and Northern Ireland, almost 38,000 people died of stroke in the UK in 2016.

The researchers supported by NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre and the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration South London looked at data from south London patients who had an ischaemic stroke – one caused by a blood clot – between 2000 and 2015.

After adjustments for population changes, the research showed that the risk of death from stroke fell by 24% over the study period, with the one-year death rate dropping from 32.6% in 2000 to 20.15% in 2015. The risk of disability after a stroke fell by 23%, from 34.7% in 2000 to 26.7% in 2015. The team believes the reduced risk is due to improvements in care and medication.

Based on an estimate of 52,000 people having ischaemic strokes nationwide each year, the researchers estimate that each year 6,300 more patients survive for more than a year after their stroke, and 3,200 fewer patients each year have a disability as a result of a stroke.

Dr Yanzhong Wang, Reader in Medical Statistics at King’s College London and author of the study, said: “It’s really positive news to see that for patients who do have a stroke, the risk of death and disability is decreasing. It shows that, although there is still more to do, trends are moving in the right direction.

“We think the change is due to improvements to the way we treat stroke, such as higher admission rates to hospital, increased use of CT and MRI scans, and more frequent treatment with thrombolytic and anticoagulant medications in the acute phase of stroke. We also believe that a shift towards patients having less severe strokes, perhaps caused by improved public health, could also play a role in the change.”

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