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Hospitals to receive ‘anti-DVT sleeves’ for stroke patients

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Hospitals across England are preparing to receive potentially lifesaving equipment to prevent deep vein thrombosis in patients immobilised by a recent stroke.

Over the next couple of weeks, stroke units will take delivery of intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) devices, which include an air pump and inflatable “sleeves”.

The sleeves are wrapped round the legs of patients unable to walk following a stroke. The IPC device works by inflating the sleeves and alternately compressing each leg to keep the blood flow moving and preventing clot formation.

“Trial clearly showed that IPC sleeves can reduce the number of stroke patients who develop DVT and improve survival rates”

Tony Rudd

The initiative is funded by NHS Improving Quality, as part of its Living Longer Lives work programme. The NHS improvement quango has secured £1m of funding to “pump prime” use of sleeves for six months.

The aim is to embed their use into the care pathway for immobile stroke patient and, as a result, improve patient outcomes and reduce death from DVT in stroke patients.

NHS Improving Quality said its decision to fund the use of IPC sleeves followed the publication of results from the CLOTS 3 trial, which showed the use of IPC sleeves led to around a 30% reduction in DVTs and fewer deaths in the six months following a stroke.

Hilary Walker, head of the Living Longer Lives programme at NHS Improving Quality, said the initiative was an example of how to “rapidly translate the findings of research into routine clinical practice”.

“IPC sleeves have been used for several years in surgical patients, but this will be the first major use in medical patients,” she said.

“It is hoped that the initiative will support the rapid implementation of IPC sleeves in stroke units and improve outcomes for stroke patients,” she added.

National clinical director for stroke Professor Anthony Rudd said he was “delighted” at the roll-out of the devices.

“The results of the CLOTS 3 trial clearly showed that IPC sleeves can reduce the number of stroke patients who develop DVT and improve survival rates,” he said.

As part of the programme, stroke units will be expected to input data into the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme.

Over 60 stroke units are gearing up to receive the first of three deliveries of sleeves free of charge, with more expected to join in time for the second and final consignments over the summer.

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