Published date
Friday, 1 May, 2020

This article looks at partners across Europe working together to improve stroke treatment through research trials. 

For over 30 years, the Stroke Association has invested in research that has dramatically improved how we can stop stroke from happening, treat and support people to have the best life possible after stroke. At every stage of a stroke patient’s journey, research informs the treatment and care they receive.

The Stroke Association is also a member of the Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE), a network of organisations that champion the voices of those affected by stroke. 

SAFE is currently involved in several European research projects. It is through collaboration that the highest quality research can be achieved as the brightest in stroke research share expertise, learn from each other and spark new ideas. It also allows people affected by stroke from around Europe to be recruited into the same study.

You can find out more about these projects hoping to improve treatment for stroke patients and hear from the researchers working on them below. 

Emergency treatments for stroke have come a huge way thanks to research. The discovery of clot-busting drugs used in thrombolysis, and revolutionary technology used for physical removal of blood clots in thrombectomy has saved lives. 

But stroke is still a leading cause of death and disability, and we need to find more treatments that can stop damage to the brain caused by stroke, as quickly as possible. This project is hoping to find out if oxygen could be the key, by giving stroke patients pure oxygen to breath in the minutes and hours following stroke. 

Dr Sven Poli at University of Tuebingen, Germany, commented on the importance of team work in research at this emergency stage as it “requires high motivation and personnel, allowing 24/7 readiness to enrol patients within a very short therapeutic time window”.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is when someone has an irregular heartbeat. This increases the chance of stroke as blood clots can form in the heart and travel to the brain. Blood thinners can reduce the chance of stroke in people that have AF by stopping blood clots from forming. But, for stroke survivors that have had a bleed in the brain, blood thinners may cause more harm than good by increasing the chance of more bleeding. This project aims to settle the debate so we can find out how best to treat AF in people with stroke caused by a bleed in the brain. 

Dr Eleni Korompoki at Imperial College London, England, told us how important collaboration is saying: 

“This project is covering many specialities, so we need to have partners with expertise in stroke, cardiology, genetics, biomarkers, neuroimaging and predictive modelling to name just a few!”

Stroke can strike at any age, but older adults are more likely to have a stroke. Medical complications such as fever or pneumonia can really hamper recovery. This project, being carried out in around 80 hospitals in nine European countries is looking at whether older adults will benefit from being treated for these complications before they even experience any signs and symptoms. 

Jeronen de Jonge at University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands highlighted the importance of this project saying:

“Many patients suffer stroke on a daily basis. However, there are still limited treatment options available… We hope to find a simple, safe and effective treatment strategy for patients who have had stroke, which can prevent the development of complications and improve recovery after stroke”

As these projects are ongoing, it will be years before we know what their findings offer for the treatment of stroke. But we’re hopeful that research will continue to save, and improve the lives of those affected by stroke, as it has done over the last few decades. 

You can find out more about the European research SAFE is involved in here on their website.

You can find out more about the Stroke Association’s support for stroke research here on our website.

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