Stroke is one of the UK’s leading causes of death. There are over 100,000 strokes in the UK every year and, 1 in 8 of these prove to be fatal within the first 30 days. As the UK’s population continues to age, strokes are expected to become an increasingly common condition.

Research has shown that patients who are cared for on a dedicated stroke hospital ward are much more likely to survive, and to retain their independence and living at home within a year, than if they were treated on a non-dedicated stroke ward.[1]

The National Brain Appeal is currently seeking to raise £1.5million in order to create an acute interventional neuroradiology service for the treatment of stroke at Queen Square. This service will provide urgent care, as well as help support regional and national stroke treatment.

What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of an individual’s brain is cut off. Your brain depends upon the oxygen and nutrients which are provided by your blood in order to survive. If the blood supply is restricted or stopped in any way, then your brain cells will start to die. This can lead to brain injuries, disability and, in some cases, even death.

There are two main types of stroke:

1. Ischaemic strokes are particularly common and make up around 85% of all cases. This form of stroke occurs when a blood clot stops the blood supply to your brain.

2. Haemorrhagic strokes happen when a weakened blood vessel bursts within or on the surface of the brain.

How is stroke treated?

Stroke represents a serious medical emergency and need to be treated immediately in order to reduce the amount of damage to the brain.

The treatment of stroke depends upon a variety of factors, including the type of stroke and what part of the brain is affected. Medicines are used to prevent and remove blood clots, as well as to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. In some cases, surgery may be required in order to reduce the brain’s swelling and minimise the risk of further bleeding, particularly with haemorrhagic strokes.

What is an Interventional Neuroradiology Service for Stroke?

When it comes to stroke, patients need to receive treatment as soon as possible in order to minimise the risks of permanent brain damage. This is where the interventional neuroradiology service is really needed.

The treatment of stroke has been vastly improved with the creation of the Hyperacute Stroke Unit at University College Hospital – a specialist centre that manages the first 72 hours of stroke care.

For those patients with bigger blood clots which block major arteries to the brain, standard treatment is not effective. Nonetheless, a revolutionary treatment called thrombectomy (which would be delivered by the proposed facility) could help these patients.

A thrombectomy provides immediate treatment and involves a catheter being passed up the artery, capturing the blood clot and pulling it out so that the blood flow can return to normal. Recent research has shown that, where this treatment is possible, it can prevent a patient suffering severe brain damage and even death.

Receiving urgent care is vital. The procedure has to be initiated very quickly and requires highly skilled neuroradiologists, specialist equipment and round-the-clock critical care. Our interventional neuroradiology service would be able to provide this treatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to the four million people living in north and central London. This would dramatically increase the number of patients who could receive urgent care, at any time of the day, from the current 25 patients per year to 400 patients each year.

Expanding the service will require significant investment, training and commitment and that’s why The National Brain Appeal is seeking to raise £1.5million.

How will the funds raised be spent?

The funds raised will allow the creation of a new unit from an adapted ward and will provide a five-bed neuromedical high acuity unit, together with a redeveloped neuromedical intensive therapy unit. Due to the extremely short time window available in which to remove a blood clot following the occurrence of a stroke, the unit needs to be located close to the ambulance bays, angiography facilities and neurosurgical operating theatres. This is projected to cost around £500,000.

The remaining £1 million will help fund a second angiography scanner, which will be crucial to delivering this new service.

We are seeking to source donations from a wide variety of sources, including trusts, charitable organisations, individual and corporate donors.

Help The National Brain Appeal support stroke recovery today!

This new interventional neuroradiology service would make a vast improvement to the recovery process for patients who have suffered strokes in London and around the UK, and significantly increase the number of patients who can receive this treatment.

We hope you can help.

You can find out more about the project, including how to donate, here.


[1] State of the Nation Stroke Statistics – January 2017 (Stroke Association)