Call for stroke treatment review

Doctors are under-utilising crucial medication to prevent deadly strokes in those with a common type of heart condition, new research says, leading to fresh calls for a review of current treatment strategies and more research into stroke prevention.

Stroke is Australia’s second biggest killer after coronary heart disease and is a major cause of disability. A new study of over 26,000 stroke patients, has found those with Atrial Fibrillation (AF) – an irregular heartbeat commonly seen in the elderly – have a mortality rate almost twice that of other stroke patients.

As many as 90 percent of patients with AF-related stroke do not receive appropriate blood-thinning medication at the time of their stroke. Researchers say a number of fatal and disabling strokes could therefore be prevented through the better use of existing anticoagulant medication.

Study authors said doctors are underutilising anticoagulants because of an excessive concern over bleeding risk, despite “robust guidelines” being in place for treating AF patients who are over 65 years old. Anticoagulants “thin: the blood to help prevent blood clots that cause ischaemic strokes. There is a small risk that patients on anticoagulants will suffer major bleeding, including the risk of a brain haemorrhage.

Read more at Cerebrovascular Diseases