Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

Medical Detectives: Stroke Disease

Presented by Professor Peter Sandercock on 6 November 2014.

The lecture

Ideas about the causes of stroke have evolved over the centuries from the mystical to the realisation that most strokes are due to a plumbing problem - a blocked or burst artery in the brain.

In this lecture Professor Peter Sandercock will begin by describing early attempts to map stroke in the population and then explain how the numerical science of epidemics of infectious diseases in populations was successfully applied to stroke to identify its main causes.

He will also discuss the search for effective methods of prevention and treatment, which has, for many years, been confounded by bad luck and inadequate scientific studies.

Professor Peter Sandercock

Professor Peter Sandercock, MA, DM, FRCPE, FMedSci is an Academic Clinical Neurologist at the University of Edinburgh.

Peter studied Medicine at the University of Oxford, and undertook his postgraduate clinical training in Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester, Oxford and Liverpool, followed by a visiting academic fellowship at McMaster University Canada.

His initial research was on the studying the patterns of stroke disease in the population of Oxfordshire, and in clinical trials of treatments to prevent stroke. When he took up his post in Edinburgh he set up and ran the first International Stroke Trial (IST-1), a 'mega-trial' testing two simple emergency clot-preventing treatments for stroke (aspirin and the anticoagulant heparin) in 19.435 patients recruited within 48 hours of stroke onset from 467 hospitals in 37 countries.

Another interest is in systematically reviewing the evidence for all forms of treatment for stroke, a programme of work he has continued for over 20 years, mostly with the Cochrane Collaboration.

His most recent major research project has tested the value of a clot-busting drug alteplase treating stroke in the IST-3 trial.