Tuesday 9th May 2017 – 7.00am – Murray MacGregor.
A simple test that anyone can do, together with a medicine skin patch costing as little as 39p, could save hundreds of lives.
West Midlands Ambulance Service is working with a number of other ambulance trusts, the British Heart Foundation and the University of Nottingham to test the plaster-like patch which contains the drug glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) on patients suffering from a Stroke.
The researchers believe that the patch can improve outcomes for people who have had a stroke if the medicine is administered quickly. Early results in hospital suggest the skin patch could double survival chances.
The trial which is currently being run in the Black Country but could be extended to Staffordshire and Herefordshire sees the patch applied by ambulance staff when they assess the patient thus saving vital minutes.
Stroke causes around 3,500 deaths across the West Midlands every year according to latest statistics.
A stroke is usually caused by an artery clot or burst blood vessel in the brain and causes permanent disability in around a quarter of patients
GTN helps lower blood pressure and opens up blood vessels, which can help reduce the damage caused in the immediate minutes and hours following a stroke.
Researchers say that the ability to start treating patients within an hour could revolutionise stroke care and lead to the technique being adopted worldwide. An initial trial of the GTN patch in hospital showed that it halved the stroke death rate from 38% to 16%.
Research Paramedic, Josh Miler, says: “For this treatment to work best, we need to get to patients quickly and that means people being aware of the FAST Test – Face, Arms, Speech, Time to call 999 – which is a very simple method of assessing whether someone is having a stroke. Time is critical in a stroke so we would strongly advise everyone to learn the test so that they can identify if someone is having a stroke.”
Consultant Paramedic, Matt Ward, says: “You cannot underestimate just how important it is that patients suffering from a stroke are identified as quickly as possible.”
WMAS Lead Research Paramedic, Andy Rosser, says: “By improving blood flow in the brain in stroke patients we can dramatically improve their survival chances and recovery. We think that this patch will make a difference to patients, but we need to be sure so taking part in the trial is key.”
Consultant Paramedic, Matt Ward, added: “As well as needing the public to be aware that speed is of the essence, we have been making sure our staff spend as little time on scene when they are dealing with stroke patients.”
The trial is expected to continue throughout 2017 with results coming through in 2018. The trial has been live within the Black Country area of the West Midlands since the 1st March 2017. WMAS is currently working with Walsall Manor, Sandwell and New Cross Hospitals.