Drug therapy saving patients from stroke devastation

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A GROUND-BREAKING project led by doctors in Yorkshire has cut the number of people suffering devastating strokes.

The innovative project in Bradford involved patients living with the potential ticking time bomb of atrial fibrillation (AF).

The condition, which causes abnormalities in the rhythm of the heart, puts people at risk of sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack or stroke.

Patients earmarked as being at moderate to high risk of stroke were prescribed anticoagulation drugs as a precautionary measure resulting in a reduction of two strokes every month across Bradford and Airedale.

The number of strokes prevented is set to rise as more patients are involved in the project, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.

It is estimated 200 strokes across Bradford and 800 in West Yorkshire could be avoided if the approach was fully adopted.

GP specialist in cardiology, Matt Fay, who led the project, said: “This is a proud day for Bradford GPs who took the lead in recognising and embracing a vitally important health issue.

“All strokes are devastating but AF strokes are bigger and potentially lethal.

“Sadly, 15 per cent of people who suffer an AF stroke die during the hospital admission and half 
of sufferers will need long-term care.

“But we know that when prescribed anticoagulant drugs these strokes can be avoided. We have always known this, yet too many patients are still being given aspirin when they could be given anticoagulants. Bradford has now shown the way with this project and this new evidence is the best yet for patients.”

Among those who now knows the risks of AF is Barbara Edwards, 65, of Eldwick, near Bingley, who suffered a stroke in December 2012 and was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation in hospital.

The condition is often inherited and on further investigation she found relatives on her father’s side of the family had suffered from it.

“It was a great surprise to me to find out that I had AF – it had 
not been picked up before,” she said.

“It has been important for me to know so that I can manage it with the right medication.

“You can’t stop AF but you can manage it, if you know about it.”