For Sarah, the mother of four young boys, this Christmas will be extra special. This will be her second Christmas after suffering a devastating stroke at the age of just 33.
“I now have so many limitations, physically and mentally. I become overwhelmed very quickly and then fatigue sets in and it can take days before I’m feeling somewhat better again,” Sarah says.
Will you help protect people like Sarah from stroke?
Surviving ischaemic stroke is a race against time.
In ischaemic stroke, a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain. There is only one emergency clot-busting drug treatment available, called TPA, and it must be administered within 4.5 hours after the stroke occurs to be effective. Unfortunately, TPA also has potentially deadly side effects like severe bleeding, so it is only suitable for a small proportion of patients, even if they reach hospital in time.
This means that up to a heartbreaking 90 per cent of stroke patients cannot receive emergency drug treatment. They can only receive ‘comfort care’ for their stroke and may be left with disabilities for the rest of their lives.
“If I’d waited before getting to hospital, I could have ended up losing my vision completely, or the use of some of my limbs. Or I might not even be here,” Sarah says.
Help protect people like Sarah
Groundbreaking research at the Heart Research Institute led by Professor Shaun Jackson and team members Associate Professor Simone Schoenwaelder and Dr Jessica Maclean aims to get stroke treatment to the people who need it most.
Every day the team gets one step closer to making ‘clot-busting’ medication accessible to far more people – by reducing the risk of secondary clotting or excessive bleeding, and by extending the ‘therapeutic window’ to give people longer to reach hospital and receive the treatment.
“If we can extend that window from four and a half hours to six or seven, so many more people will have time to receive that potentially life-saving treatment,” says Dr Maclean.
This research is vitally important. More than 10,000 people in Australia die from stroke each year, and thousands more live with life-changing disabilities.
Your support will fund groundbreaking projects like this and others in the fight against cardiovascular disease. You can help teams like Dr Maclean’s in securing essential technology to progress their research, such as a macroscope for observing in real-time how blood clots form and respond to treatment.
With this research, Sarah is hopeful about the future – for herself and for other stroke sufferers.