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Lack Of Organised Stroke Services Is Costing Lives

Stroke Appeal Week 2004 Message: Lack Of Organised Stroke Services Is Costing Lives

New Zealand's annual Stroke Appeal Week kicks off next week (14th - 20th September) with a compelling, evidence-based message about stroke care in New Zealand.

230 New Zealander's lives and $10 million will be saved annually if the Life After Stroke; New Zealand Guideline for Management of Stroke (the Guidelines), are implemented by all of the 21 District Health Boards nationwide, according to statistics outlined in the summary of the guidelines.

The Guidelines outline recommendations for comprehensive stroke management, including prevention, emergency services, acute care, rehabilitation, secondary stroke prevention and long-term support for people with stroke and their caregivers, family members and friends.

Key recommendations of the Guidelines are that:

• All District Health Boards should provide organised stroke services

• All people admitted to hospital with stroke should expect to be managed in a stroke unit by a team of health professionals with expertise in stroke and rehabilitation.

Brian O'Grady, Chief Executive of the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand said that alarming statistics from the Ministry of Health's The Health of New Zealand Report Total Population 2004 emphasise that not enough is being done to prevent stroke, which is the third biggest killer and the largest cause of major disability in New Zealand.

"The reduction in stroke mortality statistics is lagging far behind the reduction in ischaemic heart disease mortality. In fact, over the last year, the reduction in ischaemic heart disease mortality is twice the reduction in stroke mortality nationally, which highlights the need for District Health Boards to implement," said O'Grady.

"The Guidelines have proven results that will benefit all New Zealanders. Research has clearly proven that the Guidelines save lives, reduce dependency, and increase the chance of patients returning home to live," said O'Grady

Stroke rehabilitation services in New Zealand, a study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, confirmed that services available for New Zealand people who suffer a stroke are not consistent with best practice guidelines.

Stroke Foundation's Deputy Medical Director, and co editor of the study, Dr John Gommans says the results of the study are alarming and highlight that organised stroke services reduce the risk of death or institutionalised care.

"It is critical that those who suffer an acute stroke are treated together in one place, for example a stroke unit, and that they are cared for by people experienced in stroke treatment," said Gommans.

"Research has proven that this method of treatment significantly improves the chances of stroke sufferers' recovering and regaining their independence back home, yet few hospitals in New Zealand offer this level of service," said Gommans.

"Only 18 people need to receive organised, in-patient stroke care to prevent one person dying or being dependent at one year, and survival benefits and improved functional outcomes are sustained for at least five years," said Gommans.

Developed by the 120 medical professionals in 2003, the Guidelines are a Stroke Foundation of New Zealand publication and a source of clinical information and best practice guidelines for stroke management.

Stroke Appeal Week will call upon New Zealander's to donate to the Stroke Foundation to enable them to advocate for implementation of the Guideline's recommended organised stroke services, and to continually work to support those whose lives are impacted by stroke.

To donate or for FREE information dial 0800 78 76 53 Telecom customers can text the word STROKE to 883 for an automatic $3 donation www.stroke.org.nz

-ends-

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