Stroke occurs when an artery supplying blood to a part of the brain suddenly becomes blocked or bleeds. This can damage part of the brain, which in turn impairs a range of functions including movement of body parts and communication. The effects depend on which part of the brain was targeted and how severely. A person who suffers from a small stroke may recover, while a larger stroke can lead to permanent disabilities.
Smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise and a poor diet are risk factors for stroke. Conditions that affect the circulation of the blood, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) and diabetes, also increase your risk of having a stroke.
RBWH Stroke Unit
RBWH treats around 400 patients a year through its Emergency Department and Stroke Unit. It is one of only a handful of hospitals in Queensland which has a dedicated Acute Stroke facility designed to maximise patient outcomes through stabilising the patient and completing emergency evaluation and assessment. This then enables the specialised stroke team to determine the best course of treatment including blood pressure control and the risks/benefits for thrombolytic intervention.
The Stroke team at RBWH is also actively involved in research and clinical trials, particularly in the areas of emergency treatment and the secondary prevention of stroke.
RBWH Stroke Research Group
Up until recent years, there have been very few treatments for stroke and, as a consequence, more stroke-related deaths and disability. Now, thanks to research, new treatments such as thrombolysis and clot retrieval have been developed resulting in greater survival rates and the minimisation of stroke-related disabilities.
There is still so much that can be done to improve patient outcomes and more research is desperately needed to further improve diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of stroke.
Apart from caring for patients, the Stroke team at RBWH are actively involved in research. Their focus is on determining methods of saving affected parts of the brain after stroke, improving acute treatment and preventing secondary prevention of strokes.
Current research projects at RBWH include:
- Emergency treatments for acute stroke to minimise the damage done by the stroke, including the use of MRI technology to identify stroke locations in the brain and the use of ‘clot busting’ medications to reopen blocked arteries;
- Stroke rehabilitation to improve patient outcomes, maximise recovery, prevent long-term disability and help people to return to the community; and
- Stroke prevention to reduce the risk of a stroke occurring again.
This research is in collaboration with researchers and organisations from around Australia and internationally and universities including the University of Queensland, Griffith University and QUT.