June 16, 2021

Latin America closes ranks before devastating impact of cerebral infarctions

The high incidence of cerebral infarctions in Latin America, the first cause of disability and second of deaths in the world, has led the region to close ranks to reduce the devastating impact of premature deaths, lost years of life and costs of survivor care.

On the occasion of World Stroke Day experts from the continent addressed this week in Bogotá priority actions such as the creation of specialized networks of attention and cognitive recovery mechanisms.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15 million people suffer a stroke every year around the world and, of this group, five million die and another five million are disabled for life.

"The majority of stroke patients can improve and even achieve full recovery if they receive rehabilitation," Argye Elizabeth Hillis, director of the Cerebrovascular Division of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, told Efe today. UU.).


LCA is the second leading cause of death in most Latin American countries, with a regional rate of 41 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to one of 21.9 in North America (United States and Canada), according to Organization data Pan American Health (PAHO).

Although the mortality rate has decreased since 1990, the number of cases in the region increases (although there are no consolidated data available), as well as that of people who survive.

ACV or stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off. This can be ischemic, caused by a clot that clogs a blood vessel, or hemorrhagic, when a vessel breaks and bleeds inside the brain.

"In Latin America, the deaths are around 85,000 a year, among ischemic stroke (37,869) and hemorrhagic stroke (47,484), the most serious," says Ricardo Iglesias, former president of the Argentine Society of Cardiology, who shows optimism before the available treatments and the chances of recovering from "brain scars" from a stroke.


According to Hillis, these sequels depend on the size and location of the LCA.

"In a stroke on the left side of the brain, language difficulties are common. If it is on the right side, problems can occur on the left side of the body or to express or understand emotions," adds the neurologist.

"In addition, when people have had several small ACVs, they can develop memory or coordination problems," explained the scientist, who participated this weekend in an international symposium on the subject in Bogotá.

Andrés Fonnegra, of the Colombian Network Against Stroke (Recavar), insists on being alert to the first signs, such as numbness in the face or arm or confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding what others say.

"The greatest chance of recovery occurs when treatment begins in less than 4.5 hours after symptoms occur," he warns.

The most common treatment is thrombolysis, which involves directing medications to blockage through a catheter, and another alternative is to remove the clot through a device.


Given the impact on public health, more than fifty scientists presented a priority document this year to specify what was agreed in the Latin American declaration on stroke signed in Brazil in 2018.

In the document, experts such as Sheila Martins, founder of the Brazilian Ictus Network and also invited to the appointment in Bogotá, emphasize educating about symptoms, creating mechanisms for timely care and preventing hypertension, which can increase between two to four Sometimes the chances of having a stroke before the age of 80.

They especially urge the creation of specific LCA centers to give priority to these cases.

Jorge Iván Holguín, Colombian specialist in endovascular neurosurgery, considered it essential to promote these centers through LCA networks, which, as in the case of Brazil, serve to improve education, care and research on the disease.

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