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Northern Ireland researchers guide stroke patient treatment

By Victoria O'Hara

Research led by a team of Northern Ireland scientists is helping to transform the quality of care of patients in the UK recovering from a stroke.

The computer science researchers from Ulster University looked at the data of 10,000 patients in a number of centres including Belfast hospitals and St George's Hospital, London.

Through data analysis the team assessed different care strategies, where and how stroke patients should be treated and the best technologies to improve recovery.

The research showed that the use of larger facilities to centralise care in expert centres offered the best opportunity to improve survival rates.

Each year in Northern Ireland an estimated 4,000 people suffer a stroke - one person every two hours. Stroke can have a devastating impact on an individual, and is the single biggest cause of severe disability in the UK and the third most common cause of death.

The team also discovered that increasing the use of clot-busting drugs ultimately reduced long-term costs, improved overall patient quality of life and also improved recovery.

The findings have already helped guide healthcare policy and treatment decisions in the Belfast Trust and in London.

Ulster University researchers are now sharing their approach to data analysis to international healthcare providers to deliver cost saving strategies.

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