A UEA breakthrough in immediate after-stroke care could significantly reduce the number of patients who die as a result of their stroke.
Researchers from Norwich Medical School showed how prescribing blood pressure lowering drugs early after stroke reduced deaths at three months.
The study has already underpinned guidelines for patient care in the UK and the US. And now a £1.5 million British Heart Foundation grant will allow the team to investigate whether swift ambulance treatment to reduce blood pressure can further improve outcomes.
Around 150,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the UK and it is one of the most common causes of death and disability.
The research team carried out two major clinical trials to investigate whether patients should take drugs to lower their blood pressure following a stroke.
They found that medication was effective in managing blood pressure in stroke patients and that it did not put patients at increased risk.
Lead researcher Prof John Potter said: “Until our trials there was no evidence to support the use of these drugs and there were concerns that their use could extend the stroke.
“Clinicians used to talk of a ‘rule of thirds’ – with about one third of stroke patients making a full recovery, another third making gains in independence through rehabilitation, and the remaining third dying in the hours, days or weeks following their stroke.
“But in fact, our study showed that lowering blood pressure markedly decreased the number of patients who died within three months of a stroke. However further studies are needed to confirm these findings and to assess if reducing blood pressure very early after stroke, in the ambulance before they get to hospital, will have even greater benefits”
The American Heart Association, as well as the Royal College of Physicians and other European bodies have cited these trials in their guidelines on managing stroke patients.
Research was funded by The Health Foundation and UK National Health Service Research and Development Health Technology Assessment Programme.
Prof John Potter
Clinical Professor, Norwich Medical School
- Cerebrovascular Disease
- Hypertension and Cardiovascular Risk
- Cardiovascular Physiology / Physiological Changes with Ageing
- Cardiovascular Causes of Syncope (Falls)