Stroke news roundup: February 2022

Ashley
stack of newspapers

Every month, we collect the news stories about stroke. These include survivors sharing their stories and even the occasional famous face. We also collect stories about new research and NHS changes.

This month, we'll start with the latest in stroke research.

Medical news

Stroke research popped up in the news quite a few times in February. Below are a selection that caught our eye.

The full results of our survey for Stroke Prevention Day (14 January 2022) were published on Patient.info. We asked stroke survivors about their experience of stroke. Before their stroke, more then four out of five didn't realise they were at risk of a stroke. 90% said they would go back in time to urge their younger selves to make lifestyle changes to prevent having a stroke. In this article, you can read about which lifestyle changes they mentioned most.

Some dissolvable paracetamol tablets have surprisingly levels of sodium. The maximum recommended daily dose is usually two tablets four times a day. That would be 3.5g of sodium in the tablets. The NHS recommends that adults consume only 2.4g of sodium per day, that's about one teaspoon of salt. You can read more about the study in this Daily Mail article.

"People who have been prescribed salty, soluble paracetamol should have its salt content made clearer to them, try to reduce the salt content in the food they eat, work with their doctor to manage their blood pressure and try to switch to a type of paracetamol without salt."

Dr Richard Francis, Head of Research at the Stroke Association in Science Media Centre

A study of postmenopausal women found loneliness and social isolation increases the risk of heart disease. The study followed 57,000 women for a decade. They regularly asked the women about loneliness, isolation, social support, and health concerns. Find out more about the research in this Daily Mail article.

If you are struggling with isolation or loneliness, take a look at our page with advice and suggestions on managing these.

New research finds that statin intolerance affects fewer people than we thought. Over eight million people in the UK take statins to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke. Many people stop taking statins due to side effects. But this research found that only about 7% of men are actually statin-intolerant. About 48% of women are, though. And there are many other factors that could increase the likelihood of side effects. The leading researcher said, "the decision to take a statin to reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease should always be a joint one between a GP and patient...” You can read more about the research in this article on The Telegraph.

Changes to services

Besides new research, two NHS stroke services had changes made in February.

A new multi-million-pound Stroke Improvement Programme is being launched in North Wales. It will include three rehabilitation centres. There will also be new prevention, diagnosis and monitoring services. The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are running this project. They are working with the Stroke Association and Stroke Survivors group. You can read more on Wrexham.com.

Stroke treatment services in Bristol are going to be reorganised. This will include a new stroke unit and an increase in the therapies offered to stroke survivors. Dr Phil Clatworthy, from the North Bristol NHS Trust, said "Bringing everyone from the region to Southmead should save 12 lives a year, and 50 or 60 people should be independent after a stroke who wouldn't be otherwise." An estimated 1,500 people in the area experience stroke every year. Read more about these new services in this BBC News article.

“There is strong evidence that reorganising acute stroke services can save lives, make it more likely for stroke patients to have a good recovery, and improve patient experience of care.”

Jacqui Cuthbert, The Stroke Association's Associate Director for the South West and Channel Islands (quoted in South West News)

Survivor stories

Over 100,000 people experience stroke every year in the UK. Their stories don't always make it into the news. But when they do, we try to share them here.

Becky Alexis-Martin was driving when she noticed she was starting to lose her sight. She was born with a visual impairment that was corrected by surgery when she was only a year old. Then a blood clot in her occipital lobe, known as a minor cerebral event, took her vision again. This time for about a month. Her doctor said there was a 75% chance she'd never see again. But the artist and photographer was determined to continue her work. You can read more about her amazing story in Buxton Today and learn about her new photography club. It is called the Free Peaks Photographers.

An MP who had a stroke at age 28 returned to Parliament against doctor's orders. Amy Callaghan wanted to raise concerns about reductions in Universal Credit. She spoke about another stroke survivor she met in hospital who cannot work and struggles to make ends meet after her stroke. You can read more about her story and comments in Parliament in this article in the Mirror.

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