South West stroke research is 'saving lives'

Researchers behind a pilot study in the South West say they are saving lives and improving recovery from the country's third biggest killer.

The Peninsula Medical School in Exeter is working with the ambulance service and hospitals to cut the time it takes to get treatment for stroke victims.

They have doubled the number of patients who get clot-busting treatment within the crucial first three hours.

More than 2,000 people die from strokes each year in Devon and Cornwall.

Exeter University researchers have used computer simulations to analyse patient journeys from 999 calls to treatment to identify bottlenecks in the system.

'Identify delays'

James Wenman, clinical development manager for the South Western ambulance service, said: "The hospital can get the stroke co-ordinators, consultants and the CT scanner ready so that when the patient arrives they can make that quick transition from the ambulance on to the scanner.

"Then we can determine if they need that [clot busting] life saving drug."

Dr Martin James, a Stroke Consultant at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital said: "It's not possible for a paramedic to administer clot busting treatment in somebody's home.

"People need to have a scan before they can have the treatment because of the minority of people whose stroke is due to bleeding rather than a blood clot blocking an artery."

Dr Tom Monks, a researcher from the Peninsula Medical School, said: "The university is keen to work with any other hospitals to help them identify where their delays are in stroke treatment. "

The Phoenix Stroke Appeal, supported by BBC Radio Cornwall, is already improving care for stroke patients and speeding up access to treatment.

The Peninsula Medical team is now in talks with clinicians in Cornwall about the possibility of repeating the study in the county.

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