Stroke, a disruption of blood flow to the brain, is always a medical emergency regardless of type or intensity. Time plays against a disease that is the first cause of death in women, the second in men and the main cause of disability in Spain. X-ray of this cerebrovascular pathology on the eve of World Stroke Day.
According to Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN)stroke is a medical emergency because it is a time-dependent disease, that is to say, the earlier its detection, access to tests and treatment, the greater the probability of surviving this disease and the greater also to overcome it without major consequences.
“The stroke occurs as a result of the alteration of the blood flow that reaches the brain”, explains the doctor Mar Castellanos, coordinator of the Cerebrovascular Diseases Study Group of the SEN.
In more than 80% of cases, the cause is the obstruction of one of the vessels that supply blood to the brain, usually by a clot: it is what is called ischemic stroke.
But it can also be caused by a break in one of these glasses: it is the hemorrhagic stroke.
“However, regardless of the type of stroke suffered, we will always be talking about a medical emergency or emergency, because the longer an area of our brain goes without blood flow, the greater the consequences will be,” warns the neurologist.
In Spain alone, according to data from the SEN, around 110,000 people suffer a stroke each year, at least 15% of whom die and, among the survivors, around 30% are left in a situation of functional dependency.
In Spain, stroke is also the first cause of death in women, the second in men and the first cause of disability in both men and women: more than 350,000 people have some limitation in their functional capacity as consequence of this disease.
Only 50% recognize the symptoms of stroke
Although it is estimated that 1 in 4 adults will suffer a stroke in their lifetime, in Spain only 50% of the population would know how to recognize the symptoms of this disease which in all cases represent a medical emergency :
- Sudden loss of strength or sensation in a part of the body. It generally affects one half of the body and manifests itself mainly on the face and/or the limbs.
- Abrupt change in languagewith difficulty speaking or understanding.
- Sudden change in visionsuch as loss of vision in one eye, double vision or loss of vision in one side of our visual field.
- Sudden loss of coordination or balance.
- Headache very intense and different from other common headaches.
“Symptoms of stroke generally occur suddenly and unexpectedly and, although patients usually experience several of these symptoms, just identifying one is reason enough to call 112. Even if the symptoms disappear in a few minutes, you need to go to the emergency room”, says the specialist.
“For this reason, and for the second consecutive year, the World Stroke Day campaign is focused on organizations from all over the world coming together to try to increase the knowledge that the population has about its symptoms, because reacting in time is essential to survive or not to suffer a disability from this disease”, he adds.
Prevention is fundamental
Just as it is important to recognize the symptoms, prevention of this disease is also very important. If they don’t, experts estimate that strokes will increase by 34% in the next decade.
Although the incidence of stroke increases significantly with age, more than 60% of cases occur in people under the age of 70 and 16% in people under the age of 50. In other words, even if age is a risk factor that cannot be modified, other factors also influence it.
The most important risk factor for the occurrence of stroke is the high blood pressure
But also others like the smoking, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, atrial fibrillation, high levels of lipids in the blood, diabetes mellitus, genetics, stress…
Most of the risk factors of the stroke constitute a call for attention in the face of a possible emergency and can be modified. It is estimated that only by adequately controlling modifiable risk factors, up to 90% of stroke cases could be prevented.
“Prevention is very important, not only because it is something that is in our hands, but because if we do not do it, we estimate that in the next decade there will be a 34% increase in the number of strokes, an increase of “a 45% death by stroke and a 25% increase in the number of disabled stroke survivors in Europe”, says Dr. Mar Castellanos.
We trust that days like this serve to increase knowledge about this disease and that plans such as the European Action Plan against Stroke, to which the Ministry of Health and SEN has recently joined, will also help to put a stop to this disease”.
The European Action Plan against Stroke contemplates the following objectives for 2030:
- That the number of stroke cases in Europe be reduced by at least 10%.
- That 90% or more of all stroke patients in Europe are treated in Stroke Units, as the first level of care.
- That there are national stroke plans that include the entire chain of care, from primary prevention to post-stroke.
- That they simplify national public health strategies, promoting and facilitating a healthy lifestyle, and reducing the environmental, socioeconomic and educational factors that increase the risk of dictus.
Conference to analyze the impact of the disease
As part of World Stroke Day (29 October) the Stroke Brake Foundation next to the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN)the Cerebrovascular Disease Study Group (GEECV) of the SEN and the institutional support of the Congress of Deputiesthey organized the informative day “Scientific, Social and Institutional Meeting on Stroke” whose objective was to analyze the impact of the disease from different perspectives.
Dr. Mar Castellanos explained that in our country we must continue to implement stroke units where patients can be properly addressed, since they allow a 25 percent reduction in mortality, but she recalled that there are still less of these units of those needed in Spain.
For his part, the doctor Manuel Moreu Gamazo, member of the Spanish Interventional Neuroradiology Group (GeNI), explained the evolution of stroke revascularization treatment.
Moreu warned about the importance of identifying the symptoms and intervening quickly and “never go to bed and wait for improvement”, he also indicated that efforts must be made to reduce the time from when symptoms are detected until they are ‘is cared for in an appropriate hospital “and this is improved by educating the population on how to detect and act in the event of a stroke”.
During the event, the pathology was also addressed from its social dimension in a table where the Guiar en DCA program on help and support for the affected in all dependency, disability and invalidity procedures was announced the first phases of the disease and in which patients also participated, sharing life experiences and resilience in the face of stroke.
Julio Agredàpresident of the Stroke Brake Foundation explained that clearly the weak link in the chain of stroke supervision is society, since more than 50 percent of people are unaware of the symptoms of this disease and how to act.
“The task of the foundation is to try to change this situation, we must become the strong link and be the first to activate the “stroke code”. In addition, we have already opened the inclusion line and we are doing projects that really have a positive impact on the affected and their environment”.