Around 100,000 people in the UK suffer a stroke each year and it is one of the leading causes of death, with 38,000 people losing their lives. Of those who survive, two-thirds find themselves living with a disability.
‘Stroke Research Means Everything’ is a campaign launched by the Stroke Association as part of Stroke Awareness Month. This is a campaign to raise awareness of the lack of funding available for research projects which focus on improving treatment options for stroke patients and supporting survivors with their recovery.
A stroke is a serious and life-threatening condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off or restricted, and brain cells begin to die. There are two main causes of a stroke:
There are also two types of haemorrhagic stroke:
Certain conditions and lifestyle choices can increase the risk of having a stroke including:
A stroke is a medical emergency that requires urgent treatment. It is therefore essential that people recognise the signs and symptoms and act quickly to get help.
The FAST test for recognising the most common symptoms of a stroke has been well publicised in recent years. FAST stands for:
While facial weakness, arm weakness and slurred speech are the three most common symptoms, there are other signs that should also be taken seriously:
Anyone with these symptoms should call 999. The earlier someone suffering from a stroke gets treatment, the better their chances of survival and recovery.
The treatment provided for a stroke depends on the type of stroke and which part of the brain has been affected. Strokes are usually treated with medication to prevent and dissolve blood clots, reduce blood pressure and/or reduce cholesterol levels. In some cases, surgery is required to remove clots, repair blood vessels or reduce the pressure on the brain.
The quicker treatment is provided for a stroke, the more likely it is that the patient will make a good recovery. It is therefore vitally important that GPs, paramedics and hospitals work together to ensure patient safety. A recent report by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) considered the stroke emergency care pathway and co-ordination between services when paramedics were trying to transfer a stroke patient to hospital for further investigation and treatment, but were delayed because they were ‘bounced’ between two NHS trusts.
Sarah Hibberd, a clinical negligence specialist at Penningtons Manches Cooper, comments: “We are regularly instructed to represent stroke patients whose care has fallen below an acceptable standard, whether that be a failure to provide treatment, a delay in providing treatment, a misdiagnosis or a failure to perform appropriate investigations.
“We recently represented a client whose GP failed to adequately monitor and treat high blood pressure, such that persistent high blood pressure caused an intracerebral haemorrhage and ongoing disability. We also represent clients who have suffered delayed diagnosis of subarachnoid haemorrhage or whose TIAs have not been properly investigated, leading to a full stroke, and sadly both scenarios can have devastating consequences.
“While it is vital to raise awareness of stroke symptoms so people seek urgent medical assistance, it is also imperative that prompt and appropriate treatment is provided as this can make the difference between the patient making a full recovery or suffering a life-changing disability. It can also make the difference between life and death.”
If you are concerned about the treatment that you or a family member have received, please contact a member of the clinical negligence team for a no obligation discussion.