New study could improve outcomes for stroke patients

A study looking at improving stroke care by taking patients directly to a specialist centre could help hundreds of people make a better recovery from stroke.

The SPEEDY trial is being carried out by West Midlands Ambulance Service in partnership with Newcastle University. It is being funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

Patients with clots blocking the large blood vessels of their brain may be treated with thrombectomy, where the clot is pulled out directly using a tiny cage at the end of a flexible tube.  

At the moment, patients are usually taken to their local stroke hospital first, before being taken to specialist thrombectomy centres. As part of the trial, WMAS was the first ambulance to service to test out the new pathway where patients are taken directly to thrombectomy centres, with North West Ambulance Service now also taking part, and more set to join.   

Thrombectomy is a highly specialised procedure and only a few hospitals are able to provide it. Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham and Royal Stoke University Hospital in Stoke are two of the hospitals which perform the procedure in the West Midlands.   

There are approximately 100,000 strokes in the UK each year, which equates to one every five minutes. The SPEEDY trial is looking to assess more than 500 patients who receive a thrombectomy before evaluating the outcome of the study. WMAS Research Paramedic Josh Miller, said:

“We hope this research will speed up people’s access to the brain-saving treatment.   

“We also think it will mean more people can access this treatment – around 10% of stroke patients could be suitable for thrombectomy, but at the moment, only about 2% receive it.   

“If more people receive thrombectomy, more quickly, patients will have better outcomes – returning to life as normal after their stroke.   

“It is important to emphasise that nothing changes in terms of what members of the public should do if they think someone is having a stroke.

“The FAST test remains the right thing to do to monitor symptoms, and if you have any concerns, you should dial 999 immediately”. 


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