26.10.2006 – 13:04
Stroke Patients in Europe - is Lack of Awareness Causing Disability?
Preliminary results from the world's most comprehensive global stroke survey are announced today by the Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE) and AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN). The initial survey results point to a widespread lack of awareness of stroke.
Eighty one per cent of patients and carers surveyed were not aware of stroke's symptoms before they were affected by the disease. After a stroke, patients' awareness levels increased but only to 66 %. Just 30 % of stroke patients realised they were experiencing a stroke once their symptoms started.
Awareness of the risk factors for stroke was also very low among patients. Despite 54 % of patients surveyed suffering from high blood pressure, only a third were aware that hypertension was a risk factor for stroke. Only 13 % of patients thought they could be at risk before they suffered a stroke.
Arne Hagen, President of SAFE said, "Recognising the signs and symptoms of stroke is essential for getting patients to hospital early - stroke is a disease where time to treatment affects the level of disability. If patients are recognised and diagnosed earlier, it will help reduce stroke-related disability seen in some patients. More awareness raising programmes are needed to help patients affected by this neglected disease."
These preliminary survey results are from a total of 362 individuals who completed a written questionnaire. Of these, approximately 59 per cent were stroke patients and 41 per cent carers.
One surprising statistic challenges the concept that stroke is an old persons' disease; 26 % of patients who completed the survey were under 60 years of age when they suffered their first stroke.
The full survey, the results of which are expected in early 2007, will be extensive; a total of 2,400 patients and 2,400 caregivers will be polled following recruitment through medical professionals. Participating countries include France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Sweden, Australia, China, Canada and the USA. The preliminary results announced today are from France, Germany, UK, Sweden, Spain and Italy. A steering committee, consisting of patient organisations such as SAFE and leading stroke experts is guiding the development of the survey.
The research project, launched in partnership with SAFE at the European Stroke Conference (ESC) meeting in May 2006, aims to assess the true burden, social consequences, and functional and emotional distress caused by stroke around the world.
Fifteen million people worldwide suffer a stroke each year; 5.5 million of these die and a further 5 million are left with varying degrees of disability.(1) Stroke represents the fourth biggest burden of disease worldwide, draining billions each year in healthcare costs, rehabilitation and lost productivity. Stroke is the second cause of death worldwide and a leading cause of adult disability in developed countries.(1) Despite these figures, many in Europe are unaware of the risk factors, symptoms and potential consequences of stroke.
AstraZeneca is a company with a firm commitment to stroke research, which continues to support scientists, physicians, and patients with the aim of improving stroke treatment.
AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services. It is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of over $21.4 billion and leading positions in sales of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, respiratory, oncology and neuroscience products.
AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index.
The Neuroscience pipeline includes investigational compounds for the treatment of depression and anxiety, dementia, stroke, pain control and anaesthesia.
About SAFE: The aims and objectives of SAFE, a non-profit-making organisation, are to promote awareness and understanding of stroke, to promote prevention, to identify those at risk, to improve access to appropriate treatment and care, to improve the quality of life of people affected by stroke and their families and carers, to promote better access to accurate and understandable information, to increase the priority given to stroke by policy and decision-makers and by health care providers, to promote research on stroke and related areas and to co-ordinate the efforts of national stroke patient groups in Europe.
For more information, visit http://www.safestroke.org/
1. The Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke, World Health Organisation, 2004. Available at: http://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/resources/atlas/en/
ots Originaltext: AstraZeneca
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