Angels Initiative: Overall winner of this year’s EFPIA Health Collaboration Award

Angels Initiative: Overall winner of this year’s EFPIA Health Collaboration Award

On November 22nd, 2018 EFPIA (The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) announced winners of this year’s Health Collaboration Award. The overall winner is the Angels Initiative project.

With over 80 entries received from across Europe, The Health Collaboration Awards gives an opportunity to showcase collaborative projects that have benefitted the lives of patients across Europe. Giving her reaction, EFPIA Director General, Nathalie Moll said “As we seek to address the challenges faced by patients and our healthcare systems, partnership and collaboration will be key. No one sector has all the answers and by putting patients at the heart of projects, pooling our resources and expertise and finding new, innovative ways of addressing health needs it is amazing what we can achieve. The entries and winners of this year’s Health Collaboration Awards are fantastic examples of that approach and I hope will provide food for thought and inspiration to us all.”

SAFE is proud to be part of the Angels Initiative project, providing critical information to stroke patients when they most need it, already in the stroke unit. SAFE’s contribution to this amazing project started in May this year simultaneously in 12 European countries: Spain, Serbia, Poland, Czech Republic, Latvia, Croatia, Macedonia, Greece, Ukraine, Georgia, Hungary and Turkey.

In selected hospitals in these countries, stroke patients and their carers will be provided with information on stroke and important next steps on their path to recovery. The patient-focused materials are made of five brochures, including a list of national, regional and local stroke support organisations, with their contact details, in order that patients and carers can access further support in the months and years following their stroke. The information provided in the brochures are kindly provided by the Stroke Association UK and then translated to all project languages, applying the information standard procedure for the translation.


The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) represents the pharmaceutical industry operating in Europe. Through its direct membership of 36 national associations and 40 leading pharmaceutical companies, EFPIA’s mission is to create a collaborative environment that enables our members to innovate, discover, develop and deliver new therapies and vaccines for people across Europe, as well as contribute to the European economy. Our vision is for a healthier future for Europe. A future based on prevention, innovation, access to new treatments and better outcomes for patients.

About Angels Initiative

Every 30 minutes a stroke patient who could have been saved, dies or is permanently disabled, because they were treated in the wrong hospital.
Angels Initiative is building a global community of stroke centres and stroke-ready hospitals, working every day to improve the quality of treatment for every stroke patient.
The goal is to get 1500 stroke-ready hospitals around the world by May 2019.
For more information about Angels Initiative, please visit



Stroke Support Organisation Faculty Tool Completed as #SSOFT Module 6 goes live today

Stroke Support Organisation Faculty Tool Completed as #SSOFT Module 6 goes live today

Brussels, 21st November 2018 – As the second biggest killer in the world, the response to Stroke needs an army of advocates to ensure  the message that it is preventable, treatable and beatable is implemented. SSOFT is an excellent tool to educate people on the principles of stroke advocacy. It will strengthen their ability to advocate for better stroke prevention, treatment and after care. This module is vital as a contribution to effective public campaigning. We believe that SSOFT will provide inspiration for future stroke advocates to make a real-life change, says Jon Barrick, SAFE President.

The sixth and final eLearning module of the Stroke Support Organisation Faculty Tool (SSOFT) is published today at the following address, thus marking the completion of this innovative eLearning tool on stroke support organisation and the principles of stroke advocacy.

The SSOFT’s sixth module focuses on the skills and principles around developing effective public advocacy campaigns.

SSOFT’s development and execution was successfully led by Victoria Brewer, SAFE Project Director, who stressed from the beginning of the project that the members of the SAFE had to be central to the whole process. SAFE members have been actively involved in the development of the content by either testing the modules, providing cases studies or sharing their experience in interviews. These examples have brought much of the content to life by providing real world cases studies of how the knowledge contained in the modules can be applied.

“The opinion of the people who test the program [has been] important. Therefore, SSOFT is exactly what should be: a tool ‘for our members by our members’.” Nenad Nikolić Moždani Udar, the Serbian Stroke Association

The release of the final module marks a significant stage in SSOFT’s development with this stage of development being completed. SAFE is currently exploring future expansion options for SSOFT

“I hope that the tool will never be truly “finished” but remain a live environment that always adapts to the latest developments and experiences.” André de Rosa Spierings, National Board member of Hersenletsel, Netherlands.

About SSOFT’s 6th module

SSOFT’s sixth module focuses on the skills and principles around developing effective public advocacy campaigns. The module is broken down in to five bitesize sections, which cover:

6.1 Public advocacy – focuses on the role of public engagement in advocacy & how to dispel stroke myths to drive change.

6.2 Stroke Community & Mass Campaigning – covers how to build a stroke community & campaign to a large audience

6.3 Publicity – demonstrates how to manage publicity by engaging with print & broadcast media

6.4 Traditional Media – helps learners to understand the role of traditional media &and learn how to work with journalists & editors

6.5 Social Media – examine the role of social media in bringing momentum for change.


SSOFT is an innovative online eLearning advocacy tool being developed by Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE), in partnership with the European Stroke Organisation (ESO).

“I think this is just the beginning; …. I envisage this resource as further strengthening the European stroke patient network and in time the global stroke patient network.” @BelsonSarah

This online learning platform provides knowledge and training on how the creation of effective advocacy activities and campaigns to deliver positive change at a local and national level on stroke prevention, treatment and care. The eLearning platform includes six modules that provide information on:

Module 1: Stroke Support Organisations (SSOs)

Module 2: Making Change Happen

Module 3: Use of Evidence

Module 4: Role of Patient Voice

Module 5: Health & Care System Advocacy

Module 6: Public Advocacy

The modules and learning environment are accessible via the SSOFT website through a simple registration process. Visitors to the website can also learn more about SSOFT, SAFE and ESO, find their nearest SAFE Stroke Support Organisation (SSO) as well as hear from SAFE members about their experiences.

For more information, please send an email or visit


SAFE would like to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the contributions made by those who have helped in the development of SSOFT and module 6.

Stroke Alliance for Europe Board, who have been involved at every stage of development of this module.

The Peer Reviewers for module 6:

  • Stiftung Deutsche Schlaganfall-Hilfe (Dr Markus Wagner)
  • World Stroke Organization (Anita Wiseman)
  • Irish Heart Foundation (Chris Macey)
  • Different Strokes Charity (Austin Willets)
  • Hellenic Alliance/Action for Stroke Support Organization (Dr Hariklia Proios)
  • Macedonian Stroke Association (Dr Anita Arsovska)

Our members who have shared their experiences and knowledge in the video interviews used within the module:

  • Adam Siger – Fundacja Udaru Mózgu, Poland
  • Anita Arsovska – Macedonian Stroke Association
  • Chris Macey – The Irish Heart Foundation, R.Ireland
  • Hrvoje Jurlina – HDPMU Croatian Stroke Society, Croatia
  • Francesca Romana Pezzella – ALICe, Italy
  • Jon Barrick – Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE)
  • Mara Cochetti – ALICe, Italy
  • Nenad Nikolić – Moždani Udar, Serbia
  • Pnina Rosenzweig – Neeman Association for Stroke Survivors, Israel

Our member and partner organisations who have collaborated in the development of the module content:

  • World Stroke Organization
  • European Stroke Organisation
  • Stroke Association UK

And all those who participated in the User Acceptance Testing of module 6.

We would also like to thank the project sponsor Bayer Healthcare who have supported this project through an education grant.

About SAFE

The Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE) a non-profit-making organisation formed in 2004. It is the voice of stroke patients in Europe, representing a range of patient groups from 30 European countries.

SAFE’s goal is to decrease the number of strokes in Europe by advocating for better prevention, access to adequate treatment, post-stroke care and rehabilitation.


Migraines that affect vision may increase risk of irregular heartbeat

Migraines that affect vision may increase risk of irregular heartbeat

Published first on

People who experience migraine with visual aura may have an increased risk of an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, according to a study published in the November 14, 2018, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Migraine with visual aura is when disturbances in vision occur right before head pain begins. Those disturbances may include seeing wavy lines or flashes of light, or having blurry vision or blind spots.

With atrial fibrillation, a form of arrhythmia, the heart’s normal rhythm is out of sync. As a result, blood may pool in the heart, possibly forming clots that may go to the brain, causing a stroke.

“Since atrial fibrillation is a common source of strokes caused by blood clots, and previous research has shown a link between migraine with aura and stroke, we wanted to see if people who have migraine with aura also have a higher rate of atrial fibrillation,” said study author Souvik Sen, MD, MS, MPH, of the University of South Carolina in Columbia. “Atrial fibrillation can be managed through medication, but many people do not realize that they have atrial fibrillation.”

For the study, 11,939 people with an average age of 60 without prior atrial fibrillation or stroke were evaluated for headache. Of those 9,405 did not have headache and 1,516 had migraine. Of those who had migraine, 426 had migraine with visual aura. The participants were followed for up to 20 years.

During the study, 1,623 people without headache, or 17 percent, developed atrial fibrillation while 80 of 440 people with migraine with aura, or 18 percent, developed the condition and 152 of 1,105 people with migraine without aura, or 14 percent.

After adjusting for age, sex, blood pressure, smoking and other factors that could affect risk of atrial fibrillation, people with migraine with aura were found to be 30 percent more likely to develop the condition than people who did not have headaches and 40 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than people with migraine with no aura.

The results translate to an estimated nine out of 1,000 people with migraine with aura having atrial fibrillation compared to seven out of 1,000 people with migraine without aura. Researchers also found that the rate of stroke in the migraine with aura group was four out of 1,000 people annually compared to two out of 1,000 people annually in those with migraine without aura, and three of 1,000 people annually in those with no headache.

“Our research suggests that atrial fibrillation may play a role in stroke in those with migraine with visual aura,” said Sen. “It is important to note that people with migraine with aura may be at a higher risk of atrial fibrillation due to problems with the autonomic nervous system, which helps control the heart and blood vessels. More research is needed to determine if people with migraine with visual aura should be screened for atrial fibrillation.”

A limitation of the study was that the definition of migraine may have left out people who had migraines that lasted less than one year or who had a history of migraine at younger ages. There was also limited information on migraine medications that may influence heart rate.

The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association.

Story Source:American Academy of Neurology. “Migraines that affect vision may increase risk of irregular heartbeat.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2018. <>.

New SAFE podcast: Why is stroke so difficult to prevent?

New SAFE podcast: Why is stroke so difficult to prevent?

Why is stroke so difficult to prevent even when we know which risk factors are responsible for around 90% of strokes? SAFE had a conversation about it with Dr Edo Richard, neurologist at the Radboud University medical center in Nijmegen, Netherlands. Dr Richard was the Chair of the 1st Domain Working Group – The Primary Prevention, within the Stroke Action Plan for Europe 2018-2030.


Chronic exposure to excess noise may increase risk for heart disease and stroke

Chronic exposure to excess noise may increase risk for heart disease and stroke

Published first on

Exposure to environmental noise appears to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes by fueling the activity of a brain region involved in stress response. This response in turn promotes blood vessel inflammation, according to preliminary research to be presented in Chicago at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018, a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.

The findings reveal that people with the highest levels of chronic noise exposure — such as highway and airport noise — had an increased risk of suffering cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes, regardless of other risk factors known to increase cardiovascular risk.

The results of the study offer much-needed insight into the biological mechanisms of the well-known, but poorly understood, interplay between cardiovascular disease and chronic noise exposure, researchers said.

“A growing body of research reveals an association between ambient noise and cardiovascular disease, but the physiological mechanisms behind it have remained unclear,” said study author Azar Radfar, M.D., Ph.D., a research fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “We believe our findings offer an important insight into the biology behind this phenomenon.”

Researchers analyzed the association between noise exposure and major cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, among 499 people (average age 56 years), who had simultaneous PET and CT scan imaging of their brains and blood vessels. Diagnostic validation was done in a subset of 281 subjects.

All participants were free of cardiovascular illness and cancer at baseline. Using those images, the scientists assessed the activity of the amygdala — an area of the brain involved in stress regulation and emotional responses, among other functions. To capture cardiovascular risk, the researchers examined the participants’ medical records following the initial imaging studies. Of the 499 participants, 40 experienced a cardiovascular event (e.g., heart attack or stroke) in the five years following the initial testing.

To gauge noise exposure, the researchers used participants’ home addresses and derived noise level estimates from the Department of Transportation’s Aviation and Highway Noise Map.

People with the highest levels of noise exposure had higher levels of amygdalar activity and more inflammation in their arteries. Notably, these people also had a greater than three-fold risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke and other major cardiovascular events, compared with people who had lower levels of noise exposure. That risk remained elevated even after the researchers accounted for other cardiovascular and environmental risk factors, including air pollution, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes.

Additional analysis revealed that high levels of amygdalar activity appears to unleash a pathway that fuels cardiac risk by driving blood vessel inflammation, a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

The researchers caution that more research is needed to determine whether reduction in noise exposure could meaningfully lower cardiovascular risk and reduce the number of cardiovascular events on a population-wide scale.

In the meantime, however, the new study findings should propel clinicians to consider chronic exposure to high levels of ambient noise as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

“Patients and their physicians should consider chronic noise exposure when assessing cardiovascular risk and may wish to take steps to minimize or mitigate such chronic exposure,” Radfar said.

Story Source:American Heart Association. “Chronic exposure to excess noise may increase risk for heart disease, stroke.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2018. <>.