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Data-driven approach speeds search for stroke treatment

New £500,000 funding supports development of Stroke Data Science Catalyst



Investment is being made in new data-driven approaches to tackle stroke, speeding up the search for better prevention, treatments and care. 

The Stroke Data Science Catalyst is a five-year partnership to enable researchers nationally to securely access, link and analyse existing UK health data. 

Around 1.4million people in the UK have had a stroke, with a further 100,000 cases every year. Stroke can lead to devastating consequences for patients and their families. 

The Stroke Data Science Catalyst – a partnership between British Heart Foundation, BHF Data Science Centre, Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), and the Stroke Association – will enable approved research teams to generate insights using data from a range of real-world settings, including hospitals, general practices and pharmacies, to improve understanding of stroke risk factors and open the door to better prevention and treatment.

New £500,000 funding from the Stroke Association into the BHF Science Centre will help to advance this further still. 

Professor Cathie Sudlow, director of the BHF Data Science Centre, chief Scientist at HDR UK, and stroke neurologist, says: “We have a huge opportunity to grasp here with the UK’s wealth of health data that could hold vital clues to the causes and consequences of stroke. 

“The Catalyst will combine our efforts to tackle stroke by supporting ethical data research that has the potential to influence health care and policy and to change lives.”

Risk factors for stroke overlap with those for heart conditions such as heart attack and angina, and include high blood pressure, cholesterol and obesity.

As part of the Catalyst, patients and members of the public affected by cardiovascular diseases – including stroke – will be involved at all stages of research, prioritising studies with the most potential impact for patients, future patients, families and carers.

All data used by researchers will be de-identified and accessed through Trusted Research Environments, highly secure computer systems that ensure that data is held and accessed safely and ethically.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director of the BHF, said: “Data science is transforming medicine. The BHF have invested in the BHF Data Science Centre, in partnership with Health Data Research UK, to harness the power of routinely collected health data to improve our understanding, prevention and treatment of heart and circulatory diseases.

“As part of this, we are delighted to now be working with the Stroke Association to better understand what increases people’s risk of having a stroke. This will help us improve treatment and care for stroke patients, and prevent more families from experiencing this devastating condition.”