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Study reveals ‘unacceptable delays’ in stroke prevention surgery

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Many UK patients who are at high risk of stroke are not having preventative surgery quickly enough, latest study results suggest.

Research shows that patients who undergo a carotid endarterectomy following a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) are significantly less likely to go on to have a stroke.

Yet UK researchers found that only one in five patients are having the surgical procedure within the two week target recommended by NICE.

The team from St George’s University of London studied more than 5,500 patients who underwent carotid endarterectomy surgery between 2005 and 2007.  

They found that although 83% of the patients had a history of TIA or stroke, only 20% had their operation within two weeks of the onset of symptoms. A third waited more than 12 weeks, and the average delay from referral to surgery was 40 days.

Such ‘unacceptable delays’ between symptom and operation are associated with a high risk of disabling or fatal stroke before surgery, and the benefit of surgery falls rapidly with increasing delay, the authors said.

Major improvements in services are necessary to enable surgery in appropriate patients in order to prevent strokes, they added. 

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