Monday, August 3, 1998 Published at 19:44 GMT 20:44 UK
Stroke victims not told how to reduce risk
Stroke sufferers require extensive rehabilitation
Doctors are failing to prescribe aspirin for thousands of stroke victims even though the drug could aid their condition, experts have claimed.
A survey by the British Stroke Association found that 90,000 stroke victims - or one in seven of those who have suffered a stroke - had not been told about the benefits of taking aspirin by their GP.
Aspirin is a blood thinning agent which reduces the chances that a blood clot will cause serious damage in the brain.
Stroke is Britain's third biggest killer, with somebody in the UK suffering a stroke every five minutes. Every year 1,000 people under the age of 30 alone suffer from a stroke.
Taking just half an aspirin tablet a day is an effective way of reducing the chances of having a stroke among those who have already suffered from the condition. Such people are 15 times more likely than average to have another stroke.
Kept in the dark
The BSA survey, of 1,400 GPs, also found that many stroke victims were not told about the increased risk of a recurrence, or given advice about how to reduce the risk of a further attack by improving their lifestyle.
For instance the chances of suffering a stroke are increased by excessive salt in the diet, smoking, drinking alcohol or by not taking exercise.
"We want to stop second strokes, it is a devastating disease. In doing so we will save money because admitting patients to hospital, having to look after them, having to rehabilitate them, and in some cases needing to send them to a nursing home for long term care - this is all extremely expensive."
'I feel bitter'
Leonard Waxman suffered a stroke after doctor's failed to put him on aspirin.
He said: "I do feel bitter that it has made me older a little bit earlier than perhaps I would have been, and that doctors are not prepared to consider patients with a bit more respect."
Although the smaller attacks left her feeling incredibly dizzy, she was not given medication which could have prevented a major attack when she went to her GP.
She said: " I never really felt he alerted me to anything that was wrong."
Donal Kelly, of the Different Strokes Group which helps young victims regain a normal life, said: "In the States stroke is called brain attack and it is treated as a heart attack, as a medical emergency.
"Here there is not so much activity to get the person to hospital as quickly as possible, get them scanned as quickly as possible, and to act as quickly as possible."