World Stroke Day: HSE Launch National Stroke Strategy

59% increase predicted in the total number of strokes by 2035

Tomorrow, (Saturday, 29th October 2022), the HSE National Clinical Programme for Stroke mark World Stroke Day by launching the new National Stroke Strategy 2022-2027.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death in middle to higher income countries and the leading cause of acquired neurological disability in Ireland. Approximately 5,800 adults were admitted to hospitals with a stroke in 2020. This figure does not include the estimated 1,500-2,000 people admitted or evaluated urgently for a suspected / threatened stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).

Prof Rónán Collins, Clinical Lead for the HSE National Clinical Programme for Stroke said:

“Stroke is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in our population and a major cost to our health service when outcomes are poor. Much improvement in services and outcomes has occurred since the inception of the National Clinical Programme for Stroke, but the nature of our changing demography, development of new stroke treatments and technologies, and the need for healthcare staff and public engagement on the issue of stroke are a significant challenge over the next decade.

The programme has prioritised an ambitious but realistic strategy to improve resourcing of stroke services and seeks commitment from government for a structured implementation, review and a ‘next steps for stroke’ strategy, to commence in 2026 with the aim of full realisation of the Stroke Action Plan for Europe by 2031.”

To meet the challenge of a predicted 59% increase in the total number of strokes in Ireland four pillars of the new National Stroke Strategy were identified which focus on:

  1. Stroke Prevention
  2. Acute Care and Cure
  3. Rehabilitation and Restoration to Living
  4. Education and Research

Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE said: “I welcome the launch of the new National Stroke Strategy which has been developed to provide safe, effective stroke care with improved outcomes for patients. The strategy will bring stroke care in Ireland in line with other allied national strategies and the stroke action plan for Europe 2018-2030 of the European Stroke Organisation. I am confident it will pay significant dividend for patients, healthcare and society as a whole for years to come.”

National Stroke Strategy Recommendations:

Stroke Prevention includes:

  • Many strokes are preventable - principal risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation are increasing in prevalence.
  • Develop a pathway for the case-finding, diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure in over 45 year olds
  • Develop a pathway for the prevention and case detection of atrial fibrillation (AF)
  • Ensure all hospitals receiving acute stroke patients have a specialist-led rapid access stroke service or access to such a service within their hospital network.
  • Ensure that all patients recovering from a stroke have access to a specialist secondary prevention stroke service and diagnostics.

Acute Care includes:

  • Acute stroke services must have adequate staffing and diagnostic resources to provide 24/7 acute stroke care and treatment
  • All hospitals receiving acute stroke patients must have an acute stroke unit.
  • Appropriate staffing of specialist stroke units with a number of trained physicians, nurses, healthcare assistants, health and social care professionals
  • All patients must have 24/7 access to emergency acute stroke assessment and treatment by a stroke specialist

Rehabilitation includes:

  • Early Supported Discharge teams to be fully commissioned across 21 high activity sites over a three-year period to cover 92% of the stroke inpatient population
  • ‘Stroke Key Worker*’ resource to be by appointed in each CHO so that discharged stroke patients and their families have access to the specific support and advice
  • All stroke patients to have a ‘stroke passport’

Education & Research includes

  • Funding for a sustained public awareness campaign on stroke
  • Creation of Professorships in Neurovascular and Stroke Medicine in our six medical schools to improve Irish research and teaching in stroke
  • Creation of three Stroke Research Fellowships to enhance research and career opportunity and help retain our excellent medical graduates in stroke medicine

To view the National Stroke Strategy document, see https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/cspd/ncps/stroke/ (available from 29th October).

For more information on stroke signs and symptoms see the Irish Heart Foundation irishheart.ie/stroke. If you notice symptoms of a stroke it is important to get to an Emergency Department as soon as possible.

Last updated on: 01 / 11 / 2022