Stroke patients in India at risk of blood clots and death could be helped by a compression device that wraps around the legs,a study by the University of Edinburgh suggests.
Researchers have shown for the first time that by gently squeezing the legs,the risk of dying after stroke is reduced.
It is thought that the compression reduces the risk of clots in the veins of the legs by increasing blood flow.
Around 1.3 million people living in India die each year due to stroke. Stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide.
Around 15 million people have a stroke each year around the world,one-third of whom will die. Another third will become permanently disabled.
The results of the trial,published in The Lancet journal,reveal that thigh-length intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis
(DVT),which commonly affects stroke patients.
DVT can lead to pulmonary embolism,which blocks patients’ blood vessels in their lungs and can cause heart failure,killing thousands of people each year.
The IPC sleeves,which cost hospitals in the UK as little as 25 pounds per pair,can be worn for several days or weeks after the stroke.
They are inflated for a few seconds,one leg at a time,to compress the veins in the legs every minute or so.
Until now,no treatment has been available that safely reduces the risk of the blood clots in the legs and the risk of dying.
Current treatments include blood thinning injections,which have been shown to reduce the risk of DVT.
However,these carry an increased risk of bleeding a serious drawback for stroke patients because of the threat of bleeding into the brain.
Experts also add that blood thinning injections have not been conclusively shown to reduce the risk of dying after stroke.
More than 2,800 stroke patients across the UK were involved in the randomised trial.
The patients volunteered to take part in the study between 2008 and 2012. Hundreds of researchers from more than 100 hospitals took part.
Stroke patients most at risk of DVT include those with weakness of their arms and legs,who are unable to walk on admission to hospital.
Some 20 per cent of these people will go on to develop a blood clot in the veins of their legs.
Professor Martin Dennis,of the University of Edinburgh’s Division of Clinical Neurosciences,will present the results at the European Stroke Conference in London.
Dennis said,”This study is a major breakthrough showing how a simple and safe treatment can save lives. It is one of the most important research studies to emerge from the field of stroke in recent years. At last we have a simple,safe and affordable treatment that reduces the risk of DVT and even appears to reduce the risk of dying after a stroke.”