Stroke is by far the leading cause of death in women and the second in men
- Three out of ten people who have a stroke are left with some kind of physical or mental disability
- Its onset is closely related to factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and sedentary lifestyles
Valencia, 28 October 2020. Stroke is by far the leading cause of death in women and the second in men, says Dr. Catheline Lauwers, Head of the Cardiology Department of Quirónsalud Valencia Hospital, on the occasion of International Stroke Day, which will be observed tomorrow.
In Spain, according to the Cerebrovascular Disease Study Group of the Spanish Society of Neurology (GEECV-SEN), 130,000 people have a stroke each year, in other words, 1 out of every 6 Spaniards will develop a stroke in their lifetime. Out of these 130,000 people: 30% die and 30% are left with some kind of physical or mental disability.
These strokes are mostly caused by the sudden interruption in the blood supply to some part of the brain,mainly due to the blockage of an artery due to a clot, either formed locally or originating from another place such as the heart or the proximal artery. “Mostly”, explains Dr. José Nieto, a cardiologist at Quirónsalud Murcia Hospital, “these clots or thrombi usually form on cholesterol plaques in the artery walls, which when broken or cracked lead to the formation of a thrombus, or form in the heart cavities when the blood does not circulate normally, either due to arrhythmias or the dilation of cavities.”
Stroke usually occurs unexpectedly, although as Dr. Catheline Lauwers, points out, “it can be prevented simply by following a heart-healthy lifestyle and its onset is strongly related to factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, sedentary lifestyles, diet, diabetes, cholesterol, smoking, taking oral contraceptives or the presence of heart disease.”
Dr. José Nieto notes that one of the heart diseases that can contribute to strokes is atrial fibrillation, which, as he explains, “is cardiac arrhythmia that predisposes the formation of clots in the heart that can cause embolism in the brain circulation.” Other heart conditions that can predispose the formation of thrombi are abnormalities in the heart valves or heart muscle, as well as the formation of cholesterol plaques (atherosclerosis) in the wall of the arteries.
When a stroke can be operated on
There are two types of stroke: ischemic, which is caused by a lack of blood supply to the brain due to a thrombus, and haemorrhagic, which is caused by a ruptured brain artery.
“As for the symptoms,” explains Dr. Marcelo Galarza, head of neurosurgery at Quirónsalud Torrevieja Hospital, “they are very similar, so patients must undergo a brain scan or CT scan, and thereafter, depending on whether it is ischemic or haemorrhagic, an MRI, CT angiography or brain angiography will be performed.”
About 10% of haemorrhagic strokes may be candidates for surgery as long as they have a considerable size and are relatively superficial. “The success of this surgery,” states Dr. Galarza, “will depend on the patient’s age and medical history, as well as on the speed of action. Deep brain haematomas located in an eloquent area such as the left side of the brain are usually not feasible to treat surgically.”
Doctors at Quirónsalud strongly recommend that patients should go to the emergency department as soon as possible if they have symptoms such as sudden loss of strength, drooping corners of the mouth, sudden severe headaches, total or partial loss of vision, speech problems, dizziness and sensitivity disorders such as a corky or tingling sensation in the face, arms or legs.
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