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Spotlight on stroke research

Stroke banner image for article

May is Action on Stroke month. Run by the Stroke Association it is celebrated annually and aims to raise stroke awareness.

Around 100,000 people have a stroke each year in the UK, which is approximately one stroke every five minutes.

A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. 

Stroke takes a heavy toll on individuals, families and communities. However, ongoing research offers hope for better outcomes and improved quality of life for those affected. Research is critical in understanding, preventing, and treating this devastating condition. 

Stroke research changing lives

Research led by experts in the Hyperacute Stroke Research Centre at University Hospital Southampton (UHS) found that video calls with paramedics can help identify and treat stroke patients faster. 

In the pilot, suspected stroke patients were assessed before they reached the hospital. Results show the approach can speed up treatment times and improve chances of recovery. It could also save hundreds of thousands of pounds by cutting unnecessary admissions to the hyper-acute stroke unit (HASU). 

We’re also awaiting results of the significant clinical OPTIMAS trial (Optimal Timing of Anticoagulation after Stroke) which has been running for the last four years and involved over 3,000 patients. Sponsored by the University College London with funding from the British Heart Foundation it aimed to determine the best time to start blood-thinning medication in people with irregular heartbeats and a recent stroke caused by a blockage. Findings could have significant implications for treatment. 

Increasing numbers of people taking part

Figures show that more people are taking part in stroke research. Recruitment to studies on the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) portfolio in Wessex has more than doubled in the last four years. There are currently 16 stroke NIHR portfolio studies open in Wessex. These studies are spread across the stroke journey - from prevention to rehabilitation, making participation in stroke research accessible to as many people as possible. 

Wessex home to Stroke Research Centre

One of 13 in the country, the Hyperacute Stroke Research Centre at University Hospital Southampton is making significant strides in stroke research. As a NIHR designated centre, they focus on recruiting patients in the very early stages of having had a stroke in order to minimise the brain damage caused by a stroke. This may be through medications, devices to remove blood clots or other treatments. 

By advancing our understanding, developing innovative treatments, enhancing prevention efforts, and improving rehabilitation and quality of life outcomes, researchers strive to transform the landscape of stroke care and ultimately save lives. 

More information and getting involved