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Right Arrow Research trials could help save lives
22 July 2010 at 13:42

Stroke patients could be asked to take part in national clinical trials to help prevent strokes and/or improve quality of life of sufferers.

Working alongside the North West Stroke Research Network, Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust aims to increase opportunities for patients admitted to the Stroke Unit to take part in clinical trials, and these trials are part of the ongoing commitment to stroke research.

Current trials at the Stroke Unit include SOS – a stroke oxygen study, DNA-Lacuna which investigates genetic causes of stroke in younger people and Lots’ Care – a rehabilitation study.

TRACS, a trial examining the training of caregivers after stroke, finished in January and is now in its follow-up stage. For this study the Trust received a Stroke Research Recognition Award for achieving the highest recruitment levels in the region. A continence-after-stroke trial, called ICONS, is planned to start in the autumn and the Trust is keen to launch a further clot-busting trial in the future.

Stroke Research Nurse for Southport Hospital, Margaret Marshall, said: “The Recognition Award was an excellent achievement for our Stroke Research Team and the Stroke Unit staff. Within my research role I have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful patients and carers, and their contribution or participation, however large or small, is invaluable because today’s research is tomorrow’s care.”

Involvement in medical research has been shown to improve quality of patient care as well as providing vital findings to influence future treatment and care. The stroke trials are conducted by professional, trained research staff.

Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust sees on average 500 stroke patients per year and offers fast, early diagnosis following a suspected stroke, using advanced techniques.

Case study: Tom Graham, 62, of Broxholme Way, Maghull.

It was the 5th March this year, I was at work in Birkdale feeling good – it was a Friday, the sun was shining and we were coming out of one of the worst winters we have had for years.

After a while I decided it was time for a break and I would go and get myself a cup of coffee, but I didn't make it to the rest room. As I walked a cross the office the world stopped and then began to spin. I lost control of my legs and started sliding sideways. I didn't blackout, I didn't lose sight of what was happening to me but I did end up on the floor. I remember lying there thinking that I must get up because I'm making a fool of myself, but somehow my arm and leg didn't want to work and I couldn't move.

Before I knew it a first aider had been summoned and someone had called for an ambulance. I still kept thinking why are all these people rushing about after me, I will be fine once I get the feeling back in my leg – but that was not to be the case.

After I had been for a scan of my head one of the doctors told me I had had a stroke and they needed to keep me in hospital for a while. I was in Southport hospital stroke unit for a week having various scans and still felt I was a fraud and that once I got home and back to 'normal' everything would be fine.

That was four months ago and while things have undoubtedly got better, my arm is now almost 100% and my leg is perhaps 60-70%, progress has been very slow. I have been back in to work to see my colleagues and that was great, although I slept for most of the following day, I am now more positive in my outlook.

One of the more amusing aspects of this is that I am considered young – even though I'm 62 – for a stroke. I have been asked to take part in the DNA-Lacuna research study that is looking at possible genetic causes of stroke in younger people because I didn't have the usual type of stroke caused by a blockage in an artery. I was caused by blood pressure in the centre of the brain.

The research has been very simple and taken hardly any time, it has involved me giving a blood sample for them to analyse and my answering a questionnaire about my family's history. I'm very happy to take part in it because although it won't help me, it could help others in the future.

Notes to editors

1. First picture shows Margaret Marshall, Stroke Research Nurse (right) with other members of the stroke unit team; Drs Paddy McDonald and John Horsley, Nurse Lucy Bower and Physio Heather Duff.
2. Every five minutes someone in the UK has a stroke. That’s an estimated 150,000 people per year.
3. A stroke is a brain attack. Strokes happen due to a clot or bleed in the brain, causing brain cells to die.
4. Signs of a stroke appear suddenly and most commonly include one or more of the following:
• Facial weakness
• Arm or leg weakness
• Speech problems
• Visual problems
If signs of stroke only last a few minutes or a few hours, then a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) or mini-stroke may have occurred.
5. A stroke is an emergency. If you see the signs of a stroke act FAST and call 999. Early treatment saves lives and increases the chances of making a better recovery.
6. A TIA is a warning sign that must never be ignored. Seek urgent medical attention for assessment and treatment. High-risk TIA patients must be assessed by a specialist within 24 hours of onset of symptoms.
7. Stroke is the third biggest killer and the leading cause of severe disability in the UK. More than 250,000 people live with disabilities caused by stroke.
8. Most people affected are over 65, but anyone can have a stroke, including children and even babies. Around 1,000 people under 30 have a stroke each year.
9. Almost one in four men and one in five woman aged 45 can expect to have a stroke if they live to 85.
10. Around three times more women die from stroke than from breast cancer in the UK.
11. Eating healthily, taking more exercise, not smoking and ensuring blood pressure is normal can all help to prevent stroke.

Issued by Matthew King, Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust.

Enquiries to: Matthew King Tel: 01704 704714
E-mail: matthew.king@southportandormskirk.nhs.uk