On October 29, the World Stroke Day, a health problem of which more than 12.2 million new cases occur each year in the world, according to the World Stroke Organization, which estimates that one in four adults over 25 years of age will suffer a stroke at some point in their lives. his life. Cerebrovascular disease is also very common in Spain where, according to data from the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN) Each year there are between 110,000 and 120,000 new cases of stroke and, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), last year alone, more than 24,000 people died from their cause and more than 34,000 people developed a disability.
This makes stroke the first cause of disability in Spain –more than 360,000 people have a recognized disability due to having suffered a stroke– and that, after COVID-19, stroke is the second cause of death in women in Spain and the third cause of mortality in both sexes. The objective of World Stroke Day is to inform and raise awareness among the population about this disease, to make known its risk factors and how to prevent them and what are the warning symptoms for which to seek urgent medical attention.
“A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted, either due to a blood clot (in these cases it is called ischemic stroke and accounts for more than 80% of cases) or bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke). And in both cases we are talking about a health emergency “that at the first symptoms it must be addressed without delay, since the less time that passes from the appearance of the first symptoms until it can be treated, the greater the probability of surviving this disease or reducing its consequences,” comments the Dr. Mª Mar Freijo, Coordinator of the Cerebrovascular Diseases Study Group of the Spanish Society of Neurology. “Despite this, there is still a high percentage of the population that does not know what the symptoms of this disease are or how to act when it appears.”
How to identify a stroke: warning signs
According to data from the SEN, in Spain, only 50% of the population would know how to recognize the symptoms of this disease, and that Stroke Codewhich is the health care system that is activated when calling emergencies with stroke symptoms, is only used in around 40% of the cases currently treated in Spanish hospitals.
“If we do not take action, in the next 10 years in Europe, deaths from strokes will increase by 45% and the number of stroke survivors with disabilities will increase by 25%”
“The Stroke Code, which has been implemented in all the Autonomous Communities so that patients with a stroke arrive at the hospital as soon as possible, so that upon arrival everything is prepared to care for them immediately, and thus reduce the time that passes since It is detected that a person has a stroke until treatment is started, it has proven to be very useful in saving lives and avoiding disability. However, if patients, or their family members or people accompanying them, do not know how to correctly identify that they are suffering from this disease or how they should act when faced with the first symptoms, it will be difficult for them to benefit from this system. Taking into account that a stroke kills two million neurons every minute and that there is a ‘therapeutic window’ before the treatments we have available stop being effective, it is essential that the entire population knows what this disease consists of and knows that every minute counts. And even more so if we take into account that the 25% of the population will suffer a stroke throughout his life,” explains Dr. Mª Mar Freijo.
For this reason, from the SEN they have remembered which are the symptoms for which it is necessary call 112even when only one of them is experienced, or the symptoms disappear after a few minutes:
- Sudden loss of strength or sensitivity in a part of the body. It generally affects one half of the body and manifests itself mainly on the face or extremities.
- Sudden alteration in language, with difficulties speaking or understanding.
- Sudden alteration of vision, such as loss of vision in one eye, double vision, or loss of vision somewhere in our visual field.
- Sudden loss of coordination or balance.
- Very intense headache and different from other common headaches.
Control risk factors to prevent stroke
SEN experts consider it essential that society is well informed about the disease because it is estimated that stroke cases will increase by 35% in less than 15 years. Although this is partly associated with the aging of the population because the majority of those affected are over 65 years of age, approximately 10-15% of all strokes occur in people under 45 years old and, exceptionally, there may also be cases of childhood stroke.
“Although age is a risk factor for suffering a stroke, other factors also influence which, in many cases, can be modifiable. We estimate that up to 90% of stroke cases could be avoided simply by adequately controlling the modifiable risk factors of this disease. For this reason, World Stroke Day also emerged with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of trying to prevent this disease,” highlights Dr. Mª Mar Freijo.
The main risk factor for experiencing a stroke is suffering from hypertension, and others that also influence are smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, an inadequate diet, obesity, alcoholism, drug use, genetic predisposition, stress, excess cholesterol, or suffer from diseases such as atrial fibrillation or diabetes, many of which can be modified or controlled.
“Although in recent years much progress has been made in the treatment of this disease, with the appearance of new procedures and drugs and the increasing implementation of Stroke Units, which have managed to substantially improve its prognosis, the greatest tool that we currently have to combat stroke is the prevention. If we do not take action, in the next 10 years in Europe stroke deaths will increase by 45% and the number of disabled stroke survivors will increase by 25%. Taking into account that, in 40% of cases, stroke leaves significant sequelae that prevent patients from carrying out daily activities, which already generates a non-health cost of more than 6,000 million euros annually in Europe, in days “As today, it is important to emphasize that it is in everyone’s hands to reduce the impact of this disease,” concludes Dr. Mª Mar Freijo.
Fuente: Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN)