Since 2022, an estimated 17,000 strokes and 4,000 deaths have been prevented

The NHS has revealed that thousands of lives have been saved and around 17,000 strokes prevented due to the rapid roll-out of blood-thinning drugs on the NHS.

New data shows that nearly half a million people with an increased risk of strokes have begun taking direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) in the past 18 months after the NHS rapidly expanded their use.

DOACs treat and prevent blood clots in patients with atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes irregular and abnormally fast heart rates and is responsible for one in five strokes.

Often, the condition which affects 1.5 million people in England can remain symptomless until a stroke occurs.

Around 460,000 more people have started taking DOACs since January 2022 and over 24 million prescriptions have been given to patients, preventing an estimated 17,000 strokes and 4,000 deaths.

The rapid rollout of DOACs follows guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which recommended four DOACs as clinical and cost-effective treatments.

The NHS programme was created to ensure the four recommended DOACs could reach and benefit more patients at an accelerated rate.

In 2022, the NHS released commissioning guidance for the use of edoxaban as a preferred DOAC option for prescribers due to its cost effectiveness, saving over £100m in medicine costs.

“It’s vital we continue to do all we can to detect and prevent strokes and the devastating impact they can have for patients and their loved ones,” said Niraj Lakhani, lead clinical pharmacist, NHS.

Attending the King’s Fund annual conference on 2 November 2023, NHS chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, addressed the NHS’s major drive on prevention to catch more conditions earlier and save more lives.

She said: “The rapid roll-out of these drugs is a monumental step forward in providing the best possible care for patients with cardiovascular conditions” to “reduce the number of people living with major illness and save thousands more lives”.