THE NUMBER OF STROKE CASES IN IRELAND SET TO INCREASE BY 59% BY 2035
By Riona Maguire
To mark World Stroke Day on Saturday, October 29, the HSE launched the new National Stroke Strategy 2022-2027. The four pillars of the strategy were identified to focus on stroke prevention, acute care and cure, rehabilitation and restoration to living, education and research.
One in five people will have a stroke at some time in their life. Most are over 65, but strokes can strike at any age, even in young people or children, according to the Irish Heart Foundation. Strokes are very treatable, and if the right actions are taken quickly, the patient may not have any long-term effects.
The four strategies aim to challenge the predicted 59% increase in the total number of strokes in Ireland and are set to roll out over the next decade.
Prof Rónán Collins, Clinical Lead for the HSE National Clinical Programme for Stroke explained how strokes are a ‘major cause of mortality and morbidity in our population’ and a considerable cost to our health service.
Principal risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation, are increasing in prevalence. When it comes to stroke prevention, the new strategy prioritises:
- Developing a pathway for the case-finding, diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure in over-45-year-olds
- Developing a pathway for the prevention and case detection of atrial fibrillation (AF)
- Ensuring all hospitals receiving acute stroke patients have a specialist-led rapid access stroke service or access to such a service within their hospital network.
- Ensuring that all patients recovering from a stroke have access to a specialist secondary prevention stroke service and diagnostics.
The new strategy outlines that acute care should include adequate staffing and resources necessary to provide appropriate care for stroke patients. It says;
- Acute stroke services must have adequate staffing and diagnostic resources to provide 24/7 acute stroke care and treatment
- All hospitals receiving acute stroke patients must have an acute stroke unit
- Appropriate staffing of specialist stroke units with a number of trained physicians, nurses, healthcare assistants, health and social care professionals
- All patients must have 24/7 access to emergency acute stroke assessment and treatment by a stroke specialist
Education & research elements of the strategy aim to make the wider public aware of the danger of strokes and further contribute to vital research into strokes. This will tackle:
- Funding for a sustained public awareness campaign on stroke
- Creation of Professorships in Neurovascular and Stroke Medicine in six medical schools to improve Irish research and teaching in stroke
- Creation of three Stroke Research Fellowships to enhance research and career opportunities and help retain medical graduates in stroke medicine
Dr Colm Henry, the HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer, said, “I welcome the launch of the new National Stroke Strategy which has been developed to provide safe, effective stroke care with improved outcomes for patients. The strategy will bring stroke care in Ireland in line with other allied national strategies and the stroke action plan for Europe 2018-2030 of the European Stroke Organisation.
“I am confident it will pay a significant dividend for patients, healthcare and society as a whole for years to come.”