A groundbreaking drug which dramatically increases a stroke patient’s chances of survival and making a full recovery is being used by the Royal Free Hospital.
Stefano Alampi, 67, last Wednesday became the first stroke patient of the trust to receive IV thrombolysis, which is one of the few treatments that is effective for treating acute ischaemic stroke.
In the past, the only good care for stroke was rehabilitative treatment. IV thrombolysis, however, reduces and in some cases can even reverse, the amount of brain damage that can occur as a result of a stroke. This not only dramatically increases a patient’s chance of survival, it also reduces the likelihood of their having subsequent disability.
Mr Alampi was walking with his wife on Hampstead Heath when he suffered a stroke. The London Ambulance Service took him to the Royal Free where he was given the life-saving drug, which dissolves clots that are interrupting the supply of the blood to the brain. The drug re-opens blocked arteries and salvages areas of the brain that might otherwise die.
Mr Alampi’s wife, Joanna, said: “I was very frightened when Stefano was having the stroke, I didn’t know what was happening. Thankfully the ambulance came very quickly and since the moment we arrived at the hospital, everyone has been fantastic. The doctors and the nurses have made every effort to make Stefano comfortable and to answer our questions. They are very professional but also very human. We cannot thank them enough because Stefano is making a good recovery.”
Dr Charles Davie, consultant neurologist and clinical lead of the trust’s thrombolysis service, said: “Every year, more than 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke. IV thrombolysis is one of the few treatments that is effective for treating acute ischaemic stroke - it’s therefore a really important step forward in improving the outcomes for patients.
“By providing this drug, the Royal Free is helping to establish a model of healthcare envisioned by Lord Ara Darzi in his report “Healthcare for London: A framework for action”, which was published last month.
“Lord Darzi proposes that approximately seven sites in London should be centres of excellence in providing round-the-clock interventional stroke care. We aim to be one of those centres and we will continue to expand and improve our thrombolysis service for the benefit of our patients.”
Notes to editors:
An ischaemic stroke is when the supply of blood to a part of the brain is blocked. About one in four strokes are ischaemic, other strokes are caused by a blood vessel bursting, creating pressure on a specific part of the brain. Both strokes have similar symptoms.
IV thrombolysis must be administered within three hours of the onset of FAST stroke symptoms (facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems).
In order to assess whether a patient is suitable for IV thrombolysis, he/she must have a CT scan to determine whether the stroke is a result of a blockage in an artery, or haemorrhage. Strokes that are caused by the latter cannot be treated with IV thrombolysis as the drug would cause further haemorrhaging.
Patients who receive thrombolytic treatment within 90 minutes of the onset of stroke symptoms are twice as likely to have reduced disability and lower mortality rates after three months compared with patients who do not.