`Thousands of strokes could be prevented'

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Thousands of strokes could be prevented if patients with high blood pressure were given better information, the Stroke Association said yesterday.

High blood pressure causes up to six out of ten strokes and hypertension is a greater risk factor than heart disease.

But a report by the association, Preventing Strokes and Saving Lives, says more than 80 per cent of patients never start, or drop out of potential life-saving treatments because of drug side-effects. A survey found that more than one in five gave up their drugs without seeking medical advice although alternative drugs with acceptable side-effects would have been available in the vast majority of cases.

Among the 87 per cent of patients who suffered side-effects, 70 per cent said their family and home life was affected. The most common effects noted were tiredness and lethargy, dizziness and lightheadness and headaches.

The survey also found that 73 per cent of GPs did not tell their patients the risks associated with dropping out of anti-hypertensive treatment and 62 per cent did not always explain the risk of suffering side effects. Only 65 per cent of GPs knew that hypertension was a greater risk factor for stroke than heart disease.

Stroke is currently the third highest cause of death and the largest cause of severe disability, with 350,000 people affected at any one time in England and Wales. Every year 100,000 people have a stroke.