A medicine skin patch, costing as little as 39p, could greatly improve the chances of someone surviving a stroke, according to researchers funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
The researchers are testing a plaster-like patch which is applied to a patient's shoulder or back and administers a drug whilst a patient is travelling to hospital.
The researchers believe that the patch can improve outcomes for people who have had a stroke if the medicine is administered quickly.
The patch can be applied by paramedics in an ambulance before the patient arrives at A&E, saving vital time.
A stroke is usually caused by an artery clot or burst blood vessel in the brain and causes permanent disability in around a quarter of patients.
The drug in the patch, glyceryl trinitrate (GTN), helps lower blood pressure and opens up blood vessels, which can help reduce the damage caused in the immediate minutes and hours following a stroke.
The researchers say that the ability to start treating patients within an hour could revolutionise stroke care and lead to the technique being adopted worldwide.
Early trials have shown promise and now the BHF has funded researchers from the University of Nottingham to work with seven ambulance services to trial the patch on stroke patients and will chart their recovery over 12 months.An initial trial1 of the GTN patch showed that it halved the stroke death rate from 38% to 16%.
There are more than 100,000 strokes each year2, costing the UK'S healthcare system an estimated £2 billion. It's one of the leading causes of death in the UK, killing around 40,000 people every year3.
BHF researcher, Professor Philip Bath from University of Nottingham, said: "We believe that by improving blood flow in the brain in stroke patients we can dramatically improve their survival chances and recovery.
"This patch enables us to do this within minutes and early trials have been very promising."
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Current treatment for stroke is fairly limited and patients are dying or suffering life-changing disabilities as a result.
"This trial uses a simple patch that can be applied rapidly by paramedics as soon as they reach the patient.
"If successful, this could revolutionise treatment for stroke patients across the UK and potentially globally and could be a huge step forward in the advancement of stroke treatment which currently lags behind heart attack treatment."