Stroke research urgently needed in Wales, charity says

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More research into stroke prevention is "urgently needed" in Wales despite improvements, a charity has said.

British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cymru said 66,000 people in Wales still lived with the effects of stroke but also highlighted a 22% cut in death rates from 2010-2015.

It came as a new Welsh stroke research network was announced.

The Welsh Government said "good progress" was being made on stroke care.

BHF Cymru said the reduction in fatal strokes in Wales demonstrated the advances already made but also estimated 13 people per day still suffered a stroke in Wales.

'Save more lives'

Prof Nilesh Samani, medical director at BHF, said: "There are 66,000 people living in Wales with the cruel and debilitating after-effects of this devastating disease.

"Although some exciting new developments have been made in stroke treatment, the options at our disposal for treating stroke patients are still far too limited.

"We urgently need to fund more research to better understand the causes of strokes so that we can prevent them occurring and develop new treatments for all types of stroke in order to save more lives."

The charity said research was "fundamental" to potential new treatments for the two types of stroke - ischaemic and haemorrhagic.

It welcomed the announcement that a Cross-Wales Stroke Research and Innovation Network would be created. It will be hosted by Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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The network will include members of Wales' Stroke Implementation Group (SIG), which was developed to deliver the Welsh Government's five-year strategy on stroke.

Prof Philip James, associate dean for research at the School of Health Sciences at the university, helped to create it.

He said: "Our aim is to create and sustain a collaborative, robust research infrastructure in Wales and help facilitate world-leading research and innovation in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of stroke, thus saving lives and ultimately reducing the debilitating impact on stroke patients."

The network will be launched in the autumn.

Ana Palazon, director for the Stroke Association in Wales, said investing funds into "world-class research" was key to reducing the condition's "devastating impact".

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: "More people are surviving strokes, with 22% fewer deaths from strokes since 2010, and staff skills and expertise is continually improving.

"To support these ongoing improvements a Stroke Implementation Group was formed in 2013 to provide national leadership and support for the delivery of effective person-centred stroke care in Wales."

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