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Monday, 18 June, 2001, 06:59 GMT 07:59 UK
Charity welcomes Belfast stroke trial
Trials have been held at Belfast City Hospital
Strokes occur when the brain is deprived of oxygen
A leading Northern Ireland health charity has welcomed the results of a trial aimed at reducing secondary strokes.

The Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association (NICHSA) said the findings of a progress trial investigating how to minimise the risk in those who have already had a stroke were promising.

The group said the important trial had been carried out at number of specialist centres, including Belfast City Hospital.

Results suggest the use of certain blood pressure reduction treatment can cut the risk of subsequent strokes by 28%.


The risk of a heart attack could also be reduced by 38% for those who have had a stroke or a mini-stroke.

The results of the trial will be announced in Milan in Italy later this week.

NICHSA chief executive Andrew Dougal said some patients from Northern Ireland may have already benefited from this treatment and that it was encouraging.

"This is good news for reducing the risk of second strokes or heart attacks among those who have already suffered a first stroke," he said.

"I asked the investigators if this treatment could be used for all who had suffered a stroke or a TIA (Transient Ischaemic Attack).

"They replied that they found beneficial effects for these patients irrespective of any time lapse since the first stroke."

Visual impairment

He said he could not over emphasise the importance of seeking urgent medical advice for anyone who felt they may have suffered a minor stroke.

Andrew Dougal: "Promising"

A stroke occurs because part of the brain is deprived of oxygen either because a blood vessel becomes blocked or bursts.

The resulting effects of a stroke vary enormously depending on which area of the brain is affected.

Strokes can damage the complex system of nerves and muscles that control swallowing.

Food can "go down the wrong way" and get into the lungs causing coughing or choking, and in severe cases chest infections and pneumonia.

Language therapists

Problems eating solids can lead to malnutrition and secondary problems such as reduced resistance to infection and pressure sore risk.

Swallowing is tested as soon as the stroke patient gets to hospital.

When problems do not clear up in a few days, patients are assessed by speech and language therapists and dieticians.

When stroke patients are admitted to hospital, they receive acute stroke care.

Patients are likely to be asked to make lifestyle changes, such as giving up smoking, cutting back on alcohol, losing weight, reducing cholesterol and doing more exercise.

Doctors may also prescribe aspirin or cholesterol or blood pressure lowering drugs.

Tests are also carried out to see if the arteries in the neck have narrowed, which could mean patients need surgery.

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See also:

29 Mar 01 | Health
Strokes: The impact
14 Feb 01 | Health
Stroke advance 'could save lives'
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