NHS given guidance on offering genetic testing to stroke patients

James Spargo | May 19, 2023 | News story | Medical Communications NHS, Neurology, blood clot, genetic testing, stroke 

The NHS has been given draft guidance on offering gene tests to patients who have had a stroke caused by a blood clot. It is hoped the test will be able to prevent more ‘brain attacks’ by highlighting which patients will benefit from the standard anti-clot medication and which need to be offered other options.

Clopidogrel, the standard anti-clot medication, is only effective for treating patients with certain genes. By testing a potential recipient’s genes – through a quick and affordable saliva or blood test – medical care staff will be able to prescribe the most appropriate medication for the individual patient.

It is estimated that one in every three people in the UK, and even more so among Asian families, does not have the correct enzymes to process clopidogrel.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) representative Mark Chapman, said: “Treatment with clopidogrel is effective in preventing further strokes for the majority of people who don’t have the gene variant, but until now, doctors have not known who cannot be treated with clopidogrel until after they’ve had a second stroke or TIA and that could be too late. This test ensures we’re getting the best care to people quickly, while at the same time ensuring value for money for the taxpayer.”

Juliet Bouverie from the Stroke Association said: “Stroke devastates lives and leaves people with life-long disability. We know that many stroke survivors spend the rest of their lives fearing another stroke, so it’s great to see that more people could be given appropriate help to significantly cut their risk of recurrent stroke. Anything we can do to prevent the misery that stroke can cause is ultimately good news. Getting on the right medication and taking it as advised can really go far to prevent further strokes.”

James Spargo

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