Good News

I hope you all enjoyed a happy Christmas and New Year period. I thought I would make my first blog of the year both a relatively short and positive one.

You know by now how passionate I am about raising greater awareness of Stroke, and ways we can prevent them.

Here in Worcestershire, strokes are being prevented and lives being saved, thanks to better early care for patients at higher risk. This has been made possible, due to a drive to ensure more vulnerable patients are prescribed anticoagulant medication before they suffer a stroke. We know that AF (Atrial Fibrillation) which is an irregular heartbeat, is a definite risk factor for stroke.

AF affects at least 10% of those aged over 65 and increases the risk of stroke 500 percent due to large blood clots in the heart, which can dislodge and reach the brain. Unfortunately, although more common in the elderly, this is not a condition which discriminates; young people can also develop AF.

The condition can be managed with either warfarin or newer novel anticoagulants which when taken correctly, which is down to us, are very effective.

The GP led initiative has resulted in more AF patients being identified, and therefore prioritised for anticoagulant treatment, reducing strokes in the high-risk group by 70 percent.

The latest data illustrates that 22 fewer people were admitted to the stroke unit at Worcestershire Royal Hospital during 2016/17 than the previous year since this drive began, which experts say proves this intervention is working.

NHS South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) has been monitoring emergency stroke admissions since the (AF) stroke prevention initiative. There were 638 stroke admissions in 2016/17 compared to 660 in 2015/16 in South Worcestershire. It is said that it is possible the scheme may reduce the number of AF strokes by 40 this year. It would be wonderful if other hospitals could put the initiative in to place.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous too, if we could all help spread more awareness of AF, encourage all to recognise signs and visit their GP’s if necessary?

Brendan Young, a patient voice on Worcestershire Stroke Strategy Forum and patient advocate for West Midlands AF Advisory Group, updated Health Watch with these latest figures and reminded them that unless we act in this positive way, and individually we look after ourselves,  1 in 5 of us will have a stroke one day. Proof in itself I feel to spread awareness and not only help ourselves but help others too.

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