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NHS stroke treatments “are ageist”

17 April 2009

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Older stroke victims are being discriminated against by being offered fewer drugs treatments, according to research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

However there is no evidence that treatments are made any less effective by virtue of the patient’s advance age, according to the research.

And it follows previous allegations from Age Concern and Help the aged that the NHS is “ageist” in its policy of allocating care to stroke patients.

A team from University College London found that 26.4% of patients aged 50 to 59 received drug treatment, 15.6% of those aged 80 to 89 and just 4.2% of those aged 90 or over.

This is despite evidence that treatments to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and anticlotting drugs, are just as effective in older people.

The average first-year death rates are 5.7% for patients who received treatment compared with 11.1% for those who did not.

Says the report: “Undertreatment among older people with stroke in routine primary care cannot be justified given the lack of evidence on variations in effectiveness of treatment by age.”

Copyright © Press Association 2009

British Medical Journal