Week 8 and it’s all over (for a bit!)

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So it’s the end of my placement here at the William Harvey and these past eight weeks have flown by. It’s been such a great opportunity and I’ve learnt so much.

Over the past week we’ve really been picking up speed. We went to two other casenote storage areas and picked up over 50 files so now the SUTO database is now over 70% complete. We haven’t been able to finish the project, but that’s fine as after taking a bit of a break, we’ll be back in a few weeks to pick it straight back up! After the database is complete, I’ll then get onto the more tricky but more exciting part of analysing our data. There’s a lot of information that we’ve put into the database, so we’re really hoping for some good results. Last years placement student went to the European Stroke Conference this year to present his results and we’ve been told that we might have the opportunity to go to a conference as well, which would be amazing!

On the TIA-OSA project, we’ve completed filling in the data and are just sorting  it out so that we can begin analysing it too.

At the start of this placement I had very little knowledge of stroke. Although they are not that uncommon, I’ve been lucky enough to not have anyone near me suffer from one. Over these past two months my knowledge about them has grown rapidly, and not just about the areas that I’ve been looking into. I now know about stroke treatment, why they happen, how they happen and perhaps most importantly how you can go about trying to lower your risk of having one, because as I’ve learnt there is so much that you can do!

The Stroke of Unknown Time of Onset project has been specifically about assessing the effectiveness of the the usage of thromoblysis in the treatment of strokes where the onset time is unclear. Onset time may be unclear if a patient woke up with the symptoms, or if the symptoms have been gradually worsening over hours or days. Currently the only direct treatment for ischaemic stroke is thrombolysis, where a drug called Alteplase (rtPA) that breaks down blood clots is administered intravenously. It has only been fully tested for usage in patients where the time of onset is within 4.5 hours of treatment time. In SUTO patients, this may not be posssible as the onset is unknown and therefore the drug must be used off licence. The admistration of Alteplase to SUTO patients is based on the results of a CT Perfusion scan, where contrast is injected into the brain and various measurements are taken. From these, it can be decided whether there is a penumbra, an area of tissue within the brain that has reduced oxygen supply so is at risk of irreversible damage, but could potentially be saved. The hope is that from our data, we can assess the effectiveness of thrombolysis as a treatment for stroke in SUTO patients.

Here are a few statistics about stroke from the NHS Choices website:

  • Over 150, 00o people each year suffer from a stroke in England.
  • 25% of strokes occur in people under 65.
  • Stroke is the biggest cause of adult disablity in the UK.
  • Smoking doubles your risk of having a stroke.

I thought that I would leave you with these, to highlight the importance of research into stroke treatment and prevention.

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