Preventing strokes in those at high risk 

Stroke is one of the largest public health challenges and its impact is expected to increase in the future. Clinical research is vital to identify ways to prevent stroke in the first place.  

A stroke can happen when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, such as through a clot (ischaemic stroke) or a brain bleed (intracerebral haemorrhage). 

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common form of irregular heart rhythm. It can cause blood clots to form in the heart, which can travel to the brain and cause an ischaemic stroke. It is estimated that 20% of all ischaemic strokes are caused by atrial fibrillation. 

We joined the PRESTIGE-AF Study in 2018 which is currently recruiting participants to investigate how to prevent further strokes in people who have already had a brain haemorrhage and have a high risk of blood clots caused by atrial fibrillation.  

This group of patients have an increased risk of both an ischaemic stroke and an intracerebral haemorrhage stroke. Currently there is not enough evidence for doctors to know the best way to prevent strokes in their patients who have both conditions. 

People with atrial fibrillation are usually prescribed anticoagulant medication to prevent blood clots but in someone with a previous serious bleed this may be too dangerous. If PRESTIGE-AF can recruit enough participants, it will be able to answer the question of whether these people can safely take anticoagulant medication or if they should avoid it. 

People taking part in clinical trials is vital for the advancement of stroke care. Researchers at PRESTIGE-AF would like to encourage those who have these conditions to get information on trials running in their area and to contact them 

To find out more, listen to Professor Roland Veltkamp, Imperial College London

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 754517.