The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the public body that provides guidance and advice to improve health and social care in the UK, has recently recommended genotype testing in stroke prevention.
Patients that have already experienced an ischaemic stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) should be tested to determine whether they can be treated with a specific drug. NICE currently recommends clopidogrel to reduce the risk of a secondary stroke, but those with certain variations in a gene called CYP2C19 should be prescribed an alternative drug, which will be more effective at preventing future blood clots.
“Treatment with clopidogrel is effective in preventing further strokes for the majority of people who don’t have the gene variant. But until now doctors have not known who cannot be treated with clopidogrel until after they’ve had a second stroke or TIA and that could be too late.
“If the CYP2C19 variants are found, other treatment options can be used,” Mark Chapman, interim director of medical technology and digital evaluation at NICE, explains.
Stroke risk factors
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, causing damage to the brain which can affect how the body functions. The effect of a stroke depends on which part of the brain is damaged and how significant the damage is.
There are three different types of stroke. The most common is an ischaemic stroke which is caused by a blockage cutting off the blood supply to the brain. A haemorrhagic stroke results from bleeding in or around the brain. A transient ischaemic attack or TIA is also known as a mini-stroke. Blood supply to the brain is only temporarily interrupted, so symptoms should only last for a short period.
May is Stroke Awareness Month, as the Stroke Association aims to increase stroke awareness, stroke prevention and treatment options. It is estimated that up to 90% of strokes could be prevented through regular health checks, controlling chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension and addressing lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking and exercise.
How can we help with stroke prevention?
Anyone can develop a stroke – you’re more likely to have a stroke if you’re over 55, but one in four strokes happens to younger people. As well as your age, other factors increase your risk.
Existing medical conditions are a critical factor; high blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for stroke. Diabetes and high cholesterol can clog up your arteries, and atrial fibrillation can lead to a clot forming in your heart.
At GP London W1, we provide high-quality, ongoing Chronic Disease Management. Closely working with the patient, we offer regular health checks, early symptom detection, and frequent medication reviews.
Making necessary lifestyle changes has also been proven to reduce our risk of stroke, including cutting down on alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy, balanced diet and being physically active.
We offer patients lifestyle advice and support based on the most recent research and guidelines.
Investigating stroke risk at GP London W1
We offer a comprehensive assessment of your stroke risk using state-of-the-art diagnostic tests. This includes blood pressure monitoring, diabetes screening, and ECGs to check heart rate and rhythm. Imaging and diagnostic services are performed onsite at our practice, located at 25 Harley Street, part of the Phoenix Hospital Group.