Better treatment lies behind the improvement, but prevention is key, say researchers
Deaths caused by strokes have halved in England in the past 10 years thanks to improvements in treatment, research shows.
The number of strokes, and the number of people who died from having a stroke decreased by 20 per cent and 40 per cent respectively over this period, according to the study published this week in the British Medical Journal.
Despite the overall reduction, the researchers warned that stroke rates actually increased in people aged under 55, probably as a result of obesity and type 2 diabetes, suggesting that stroke prevention efforts need to be strengthened in younger adults.
Deaths from stroke have been falling worldwide for several decades, but it is unclear to what extent this is due to a decrease in the number of strokes occurring, the number of people dying from stroke, or a combination of the two.
“Our findings show that most of the reduction in stroke mortality is a result of improved survival of patients with stroke,” said Olena Seminog, doctorate student at the University of Oxford, and co-author of this week’s report.
“However, acute and long-term management of such patients is expensive, and the NHS is already spending about 5 per cent of its budget on stroke care. By focusing on prevention and reducing the occurrence of stroke, major resources can be conserved.”
By focusing on prevention and reducing the occurrence of stroke, major resources can be conserved
Older people have been the target of medical interventions to control their blood pressure, such as prescription of statins. In an interview with the Guardian, Seminog pointed out that, though more people are surviving strokes, many of these are left severely disabled.
Data for the study came from hospital and mortality records for all residents of England aged 20 and older who were admitted to hospital with stroke or who died from stroke between 2001 and 2010. The research included both kinds of stroke – those caused by clots obstructing blood flow to the brain as well as bleeds in the brain.
The team based the findings on 947,497 stroke events in 795,869 people, including 337,085 stroke deaths. The average age at onset of stroke was 72 for men and 76 for women, and the average age of people who died from having a stroke was 79 for men and 83 for women.