Posted on 9 months ago by Laurentina Kennedy The RFT Group 012302400
Ireland is facing a significant increase in the number of people having strokes, according to a European study.
The Burden of Stroke in Europe study showed the death rate from stroke in Ireland will increase by 84% in less than 20 years.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the outgoing Health Service Executive clinical lead for strokes said this is due to an ageing population and other pressures like vascular risks and obesity.
Professor Joe Harbison said Ireland's rate of strokes is higher than many other European countries
"Until 15 years ago, there was only one stroke unit here with a basic standard of care. It has improved somewhat. But some hospitals still don't have stroke units," he said.
He said there has been a noticeable increase in the number of Irish men having strokes and they do not have the data available yet to confirm the reasons for this.
He believes it may be due to vascular risks.
Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, Prof Harbison added that the "average age of the onset for a stroke is 73, and there's just going to be an awful lot older people" as the population ages.
"We're also seeing other factors, particularly in young men - they're getting what we call vascular risk factor; so they're getting increased blood pressure, increasing irregular heart rate, increasing obesity. All that is pushing to an increase in stroke."
The Irish Heart organisation has called for an overhaul of how stroke services are resources in the wake of the study's publication.
Chris Macey, head of advocacy at the organisation, said acute stroke services "are already becoming less effective and more expensive because stroke units cannot cope with the number of strokes we have now.
"We have to act now or the surging stroke rate will not just overwhelm our stroke units, there will also be a huge spill over into all acute services that will affect all patients using emergency services.
"We don't need extra money to fix things - we just need to invest in treatment and care that has been proved to save lives and money so we don't have to send so many patients unnecessarily to expensive nursing home care."