Stroke news roundup: April 2022
There are countless stories in the news about stroke every month. In our monthly roundup, we select a handful of the ones that we found most interesting and important.
At the end of March and beginning of April, the celebrity headlines were all about aphasia for one very good reason.
On 31 March, the family of actor Bruce Willis announced his retirement following a diagnosis of aphasia.
There are over 350,000 people in the UK living with aphasia. After the actor's announcement, the Metro reported that there was a surge in people searching for information about aphasia. Here at the Stroke Association, we can testify to that. We have seen an increase in calls and emails to our Helpline about aphasia.
It's important to mention that the cause of Bruce Willis' aphasia has not been released. And although stroke is the most common cause of aphasia, there are others. You can read more about the story here on Healthline's website.
The story was covered widely in the media and made millions of people aware of aphasia and its effects.
It also prompted former actor Chris Ellison and his wife Anita to share their story on Good Morning Britain. They talked about their life since Chris, who played DCI Frank Burnside in The Bill, had a stroke which left him with aphasia. Anita has been his full time carer since his stroke in 2020. She spoke about the isolation they both felt, as well as some of the things that have helped. You can read more and watch the interview on ITV.com.
One of the things that Anita talks about in the interview is how much singing has helped Chris. There were two other stories in the news in April about people with aphasia who use singing as part of their recovery journey.
You can read about Rosie, whose Scouse accent was replaced by a Russian one, over at The Brain Charity. There is also Richard, a former singer who now runs a 12 week music therapy course. His story can be found on Wales News Online.
In addition to the stories about people with aphasia, there were two more news stories from stroke survivors that we wanted to highlight.
Life after stroke: living with limited sight
Claire Sisk was 29 when she had two strokes within six months. The damage to her core vision cells left her with progressive blindness. She has made headlines for the videos she makes for social media. In the videos Claire shows how she completes every day tasks with limited sight. She recently won a Royal National Institute of Blind People's award. It was for Best Social Media Impact of the Year. You can read more about her story here or check out her videos here.
A huge thank you to a Winchester dad
After two strokes in 2017, Adam Smith was told he might be bedridden for the rest of his life. In April, he completed the Brighton Marathon Ride. That's a 50km (just over 31 miles) cycle ride to raise over £1800 for the Stroke Association. You can read more about Adam's story here on the Hampshire Chronicle.
Medical and NHS
This month's medical section features worrying news about both the NHS and Covid. But there's also some good news about new tests and treatments.
Ambulance and A&E performance drop to lowest levels on record
You've probably seen the news that ambulances and A&E departments are struggling. At the same time, there is a growing backlog of patients waiting for treatment. When asked about the situation, our chief executive Juliet Bouverie said:
"I am incredibly worried that this deepening crisis situation for the ambulance service could have life-threatening consequences for thousands of stroke patients."
You can read more about this story on Yahoo News.
Covid infection leading to increased risk of blood clot
A recent study in the British Medical Journal found that people who had had Covid were at an increased risk of blood clots. This risk lasted for six months after having the virus.
They also had an increased risk of internal bleeding for up to two months. Internal bleeding can lead to a haemorrhagic stroke.
These increased risks were particularly for people who had a severe infection or who had Covid during the first wave. Read more about this study on BBC news.
New treatments and tests
But it wasn't all bad news in April. There has been exciting news about new tests and treatments.
- A new blood test can predict the risk of a stroke with much higher accuracy than before. It also can predict if someone is at high risk for other cardiovascular disease. Find out more on this article on the Guardian.
- A trial of a blood pressure injection is hoping to replace tablets. The injection is done twice a year. It works to prevent the production of a protein that constricts the blood vessels. Read about the new treatment in this Telegraph article.
New treatments and tests are good news, but who doesn't enjoy a good story about dogs?
A hospital in Portsmouth is recruiting more therapy dogs to work with stroke patients. You can watch this video on the BBC and meet Whisky, a therapy dog. Therapy dogs are great for reducing anxiety and even depression. The team at the Queen Alexandra Hospital have had so much success with Whisky and his friends that they want to bring in more dogs to help.