World Stroke Day

October 29th is World Stroke Day, which aims to raise awareness of this disease and its consequences, and to disseminate preventive measures to reduce the risk of stroke. Some organizations, such as the Spanish Stroke Federation, the Asociación Freno al Ictus and the Spanish Society of Neurology, celebrate this day with the aim of informing the population about the importance of post-stroke rehabilitation, a healthy lifestyle and the early detection of this disease.

Stroke is a sudden disturbance in the blood circulation of the brain, which can be caused by an obstruction (85% of cases) or by a hemorrhage (15%), and is the first cause of mortality in Spanish women and the second in men, as well as the first cause of acquired disability in adults and the second cause of dementia, according to the Cerebrovascular Disease Study Group of the Spanish Neurological Society (GEECV-SEN).

In figures, according to the Spanish Stroke Federation, 40,000 Spaniards die from this cause each year. Around 120,000 new cases are detected each year in our country, and it is estimated that a stroke occurs every six minutes. Around 30% of people who suffer a stroke die and around 40% are left with serious disabilities.

A stroke is always a health emergency that requires urgent attention in the first 3-6 hours, so it is recommended to call the emergency services to activate the stroke code and not to take the patient to the hospital on your own. Immediate recognition and early treatment of a stroke is crucial for the patient’s development, as it has been shown that patients treated from the first moment recover almost completely or with very few sequelae. In addition, for every 15 minutes that the first intervention is brought forward, the risk of disability is reduced by 4% and the risk of mortality is reduced by 4%.

Over the past 20 years, mortality and disability from stroke have decreased due to improved early detection and control of risk factors. However, the incidence of stroke continues to increase.

Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke is therefore essential, as the first few hours are crucial for a good prognosis. Some of the most important warning signs are:

  • Sudden loss of strength or vision (usually on one side of the body).
  • Deviation of the corner of the mouth
  • Speech or language difficulties
  • Loss of sensation
  • Sudden loss of stability or balance
  • Severe, sudden headaches

Risk factors for this disease depend on vascular risk, age, gender, and family history. We can prevent it by monitoring high blood pressure, heart disease, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, obesity, and smoking. It is therefore advisable to lead a healthy life:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables (healthy and balanced diet).
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco consumption
  • Exercise regularly
  • Control sugar levels
  • Control cholesterol levels
  • Control blood pressure

REMEMBER: A stroke is a medical emergency.

If you suspect it, do not waste time, as it is equivalent to the loss of brain tissue: contact the emergency services immediately by calling 112.