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World Stroke Day is celebrated on October 29

Posted on 31-10-2012

Ictus or stroke is responsible for one in a hundred deaths, which makes it the third cause of death in the world and the first cause of death among women.

In Spain 120,000 new cases of stroke are diagnosed every year and one happens every six minutes. It is the first cause of disability in the world and causes more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria together.

A stroke occurs when part of the brain is damaged as a result of complications in the blood flow to the brain. Most strokes, about 85%, are the result of a blood clot blocking an artery and blood flow to the brain is interrupted at some point. Carotid artery disease is the cause of many of these blockages.

To prevent strokes, the main recommendations are to adopt a healthier lifestyle, to avoid smoking, to eat a balanced diet and keep risk factors, like diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure, under control.
Furthermore, the formation of atherosclerosis plaques in the carotid arteries must be prevented as they reduce blood flow to the brain, as must any blood clot resulting from these plaques breaking off and traveling to the brain, thus blocking an artery, which would cause a stroke.

If the carotid artery does become blocked, blood flow to the brain may be reconstituted and blood clots prevented from breaking loose and causing a stroke by means of open or closed surgery.

The latter consists of a minimally invasive treatment to implant a stent without the need for open surgery. The stent is a small mesh tube implanted in the carotid artery which will keep the artery open and prevent blood clots breaking loose and traveling to the brain.

When a stroke occurs, it can be treated by means of a minimally invasive procedure known as clot removal, which consists of an arterial navigation system allowing the retrieval of clots (clot aspiration), the cause of a stroke, sometimes combined with fibrinolysis in situ (local in terms of the clot) which involves introducing a liquid that helps to dissolve the clot to reconstitute blood flow to the brain. If the treatment is successful, the patient will recover his/her brain functions almost immediately, but physicians have about three hours to treat a stroke without the patient suffering permanent damage, such as paralysis or disability, among others.

The Minimally Invasive Diagnostics and Therapeutics Center at Hospiten, directed by Professor Dr Manuel Maynar, is one of the most experienced groups in endovascular techniques for the treatment of carotid disease (angioplasty and carotid stent implanting) and ictus (clot aspiration and in situ fibrinolysis). It is a multidisciplinary group, made up of radiologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, endovascular surgeons and cardiovascular surgeons, specialized in minimally invasive surgery and who were pioneers in Spain in peripheral angioplasty (balloon dilation) among other minimally invasive techniques. In the year 2010, the informative and educational video "Stroke -Age is not the end", made by Mr Maynar, was awarded a prize in the ‘Videomed’ International Festival of Health and Medical Films and Telemedicine.