It is estimated that only about 15-20 percent of all people who suffer a stroke receive the necessary specialist assistance in Lithuania in time. As a result, up to 85 percent of them seek medical attention too late.
“People feel pain when they have a heart attack. It is an unpleasant signal and the person immediately calls an ambulance. When a stroke occurs, people generally do not feel pain and think that the illness will simply go away. However, most of the time they do not pass, but they can only progress “, says Dr. Saulius Taroza, a neurologist in the Department of Neurology at Klaipėda Seamen Hospital.
Stroke is a common condition after which, if a patient survives, he usually remains disabled, usually in a condition that requires 24-hour care.
Neurologist Bernadeta Viesulaitė says the statistics are relentless – one in four adults will have a stroke, and the death rate in the first three months after an ischemic stroke in Lithuania is about 20 percent. Patients die from both the stroke itself and the complications it causes.
Signs need to be observed
From the age of 60, the risk of stroke increases 5 times. A common problem is heart disease, especially heart rhythm disorders. They form clots that form in the heart, from where they can travel with blood to other organs.
The most common risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure, which affects the blood vessels that feed the brain. Its walls become brittle, easily damaged and can tear or clog at any time.
Other risk factors increase the risk of stroke: diabetes mellitus, kidney failure, heart disease, high cholesterol, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, overweight, lack of physical activity, prolonged and constant stress. Sometimes, a stroke can be caused by a hereditary cerebrovascular pathology.
There are two types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. When a blood clot forms in an artery that travels to the brain, brain cells begin to run out of oxygen and nutrients and the brain gradually stops functioning. This type of stroke is called ischemic stroke.
Ischemic strokes are responsible for about 85% of all strokes.
Hemorrhagic stroke is much less common and its effects are more severe. It occurs due to bleeding into or under the lining of the brain, caused by the rupture of the walls of blood vessels damaged by various vascular diseases.
“It is a serious disease and it is important to know how to recognize its symptoms and, if they are noticed, it is necessary to consult the doctor as soon as possible. We found that many people in our society do not recognize a stroke in time. When symptoms occur, especially if they are mild, people wait half a day or even a day in the hope that they will get better. When these people come, we can’t always help them “, says doctor B.Viesulaitė.
The person who has had a stroke should be transported to the stroke center, where specialized treatment is offered as soon as possible. The sooner assistance is provided, the more likely it is that the person will be less disabled after a stroke. Specialized stroke treatment is usually available within the first 6 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms.
“Current medical technology in some cases allows stroke treatment even after a long time, but the patient must always arrive as soon as possible. The sooner assistance is provided, the less likely you are to remain disabled “, emphasized Taroza.
This is especially important because, according to B.Viesulaitė, it is estimated that an average of two million neurons die in one minute. As a result, normal cerebral blood flow must be restored as quickly as possible, dissolving the thrombus and / or removing it mechanically by mechanical thrombectomy.
“All people with suspected stroke have a CT scan of the brain to help determine the type of stroke. If necessary, additional radiological examinations are necessary to select the most appropriate treatment tactics, ”said B.Viesulaitė.
According to Taroza, it is necessary to consult a doctor, even if the typical symptoms of a stroke disappear on their own, as it can be an ischemic stroke prophet – a transient attack of cerebral ischemia, when the symptoms usually last about 10-15 minutes.
According to Taroza, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging can also be used to identify parts of the brain that can still be preserved. This is especially important in cases where it has not been more than 24 hours since the onset of the illness or when there is no clear illness time.
“If a person arrives, for example, 2 hours after the start of the stroke, but his vascular anatomy is unfavorable, the brain may already be dead and the occlusion of the blood vessel no longer makes sense. Another may arrive after 20 hours, but the brain may still be functioning and with areas intact. In this case, opening the vessel lumen has positive benefits. In modern research, we see how blood flows through the blood vessels of the brain, where it does not flow, how many intact brains can still be preserved. These new cerebral perfusion tests started at our hospital about two years ago, with the purchase of a new CT scanner with a special program ”, explains the neurologist.
Neurologists also emphasize the importance of finding the causes of a stroke to prevent it from happening again.
Prevention rules are simple
“Being physically active can significantly reduce the risk of stroke. It is not for nothing that the motto of this year’s stroke day is “Join the movement.” When seeing severely ill patients, it is obvious that prevention is very important ”, emphasizes neurologist B. Viesulaitė.
“Our people still don’t pay enough attention to health, especially men. If you don’t feel high blood pressure, don’t drink drugs, don’t give up harmful habits. An important correction of risk factors is not only medication, but also lifestyle. Very important things are the control of blood pressure, blood cholesterol, weight and chronic diseases. It is necessary to give up smoking and alcohol, which is especially important in Lithuania. Regular physical activity is required, as well as a simple one-hour walk every day. If it is regular, it brings many benefits to the cardiovascular system. Do not forget the general principles of nutrition – as many vegetables as possible, as few sweets as possible “, emphasized doctor B.Viesulaitė.
Doctors remember that in the event of an ischemic stroke, in addition to the preventive measures already listed, medicines will have to be used to thin the blood for the rest of your life.
“However, if a person who has had a stroke only takes pills, it may not help to prevent the disease from recurring. Lifestyle changes are needed. Nor can arbitrariness be taken. Often, there are cases where a person takes drugs prescribed by doctors for a month or two, but then, at his discretion, stops doing so. This sometimes becomes the cause of a recurrent stroke. For this reason, it is very important to follow the recommendations of the specialist doctor so that the disease is prevented ”, recall the neurologists at the Klaipeda Seamen Hospital.
The main signs of a stroke are:
- facial paralysis, when the mouth is distorted, the lip is bent, the person smiles only on one side of the face – the facial muscles move asymmetrically;
- paralysis reaches the extremities or one side of the body – the person cannot hold objects in his hands, asks to raise his hands, does not get up, does not close his fist, cannot control his arms and legs, upsets his balance;
- language is impaired – the person can no longer speak or speaks incoherently, in isolated sounds, syllables, no longer understands what is being said to him;
- sudden blindness in one eye;
- sudden severe headache never experienced before.