Reduction in stroke deaths welcome

By June Shannon Stroke News   |   8th Jul 2019

Fall in stroke deaths in Ireland welcome but lack of investment in stroke rehabilitation is ‘squandering recovery’.

The Irish Heart Foundation has today (Monday, 08 July 2019) welcomed the news that death rates from stroke in Ireland continue to fall, but warned that a lack of investment in vital rehabilitation services means that the recovery of the increasing number of stroke survivors is being “squandered.”

According to the fifth annual report of the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRDS), which provides an overview of quality in the health service, death rates from ischaemic stroke ; the most common type of stroke; in Ireland have fallen by a third over the past decade.

Approximately 8,000 people in Ireland are hospitalised due to stroke every year and 1,700 people die from stroke each year.

An ischaemic stroke is caused by the death of brain cells in a particular area of the brain due to inadequate blood flow caused by a blood clot. Ischaemic strokes account for approximately 85 per cent of all strokes which result in hospitalisation in Ireland every year.

The parameters examined by the NHQRDS report included the number of patients aged 45 years and over who died in hospital within 30 days of being admitted with an ischaemic stroke, as a proportion of all patients aged 45 years and over admitted to that hospital with the same diagnosis.

"More people than ever are returning home after stroke, but for many the chance of making the best possible recovery is being squandered by the failure to invest in vital rehabilitation services,"

Mr Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy, Irish Heart Foundation

The report found that the death rate within 30 days of being admitted to a hospital in Ireland for ischaemic stroke, decreased from 10.2 deaths per 100 cases admitted in 2009, to 6.8 deaths per 100 in 2018, a reduction of 33 per cent.

This means that in 2009 if 100 patients were admitted to hospital in Ireland having suffered an ischaemic stroke then 10.2 were expected to die. However, this reduced to 6.8 deaths per 100 ischaemic stroke patients in 2018-or a third less patients dying from their stroke.

While a reduction in the number of people dying from stroke is very welcome, it also means that more and more people are surviving stroke and suffering from a range of physical and psychological difficulties. They therefore need access to vital stroke rehabilitation services to ensure they continue to make the best possible recovery.

The 2016 Irish Heart Foundation /HSE National Stroke Audit on Rehabilitation Units found that although patients had access to physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy on all sites, three-quarters of sites felt their patients were not to receiving the recommended levels of daily therapy.

Commenting Mr Chris Macey Head of Advocacy with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “The Irish Heart Foundation very much welcomes the continuing fall in stroke mortality rates which is a testament to the extraordinary commitment and skill of stroke teams countrywide in the face of severe funding deficits. But the impact of this huge effort is not being maximised.”

“More people than ever are returning home after stroke, but for many the chance of making the best possible recovery is being squandered by the failure to invest in vital rehabilitation services that can prevent the need for long-term care at a vastly higher cost to the health service,” he added.

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