Half of those affected do not fully recover

Fundación MAPFRE, The Spanish Neurology Society and Stop Strokes have launched the “STROKES: Prevent, learn, act”, to raise awareness in society of this disease.

Each year almost 120,000 people suffer from a stroke in Spain, a disease that will affect 1 in 6 people, and which is the second leading cause of death in Spain (the leading cause for women). A stroke can lead to death or severe disability in half of the cases. In terms of regional distribution, the most cases recorded in a year is in Andalusia (21,000), followed by Catalonia (12,000), Madrid (11,000), the Valencian Community (10,500) and Galicia (7,000).

These are some of the figures mentioned today during the presentation of the “STROKE – Prevent, learn, act” campaign, based on the latest data from the Spanish Neurological Society (SEN), an entity which, together with Fundación MAPFRE and Stop Strokes is promoting this initiative, also supported by the Madrid Community and City Council. Their goal is to inform society about what a stroke is, what the risk factors and symptoms of this disease are and what to do to suffer the least damage possible from it.

Difficulty speaking, moving, seeing and understanding

During the ceremony, within the World Stroke Day (29 October) activities, Jaime Gállego, SEN spokesperson, took part and discussed how stroke symptoms usually present themselves “suddenly and unexpectedly” and the most typical ones are difficulty speaking or understanding, sudden loss of strength or feelingin a part of the body and the distortion of facial symmetry as well as vision problems and an intense headache. He also emphasized that “the vast majority of patients usually have a combination of various symptoms and merely suffering from one of them, even if the symptoms are reversible or fleeting, is an emergency situation”.

Risk at any age

High blood pressure diabetes, high cholesterol levels, smoking, obesity, heart problems, a sedentary lifestyle and drinking alcohol, among others, are risk factors when suffering from a stroke. Age is another risk factor, given that the risk of suffering a stroke increases from the ages of 60-65 although “it can occur at any age”, according to Julio Agredano, chairman of Stop Strokes, who also underlined that “in the last few years the incidence of strokes in young adults has increased, owing in large part to lifestyle choices”.

Prevention: healthy lifestyle

“90% of the cases of strokes could be avoided with suitable prevention measures”. These were the words of Antonio Guzmán, Health Promotion Director at Fundación MAPFRE, who pointed out that “when we discuss prevention we are addressing both those who have not suffered a stroke at this point, with measures such as making healthy lifestyle choices, as well as how to avoid having another stroke. If you have already had a stroke, this is a risk for having another one”. Among the measures for preventing strokes, Guzmán emphasized the importance of “having a healthy lifestyle, which involves giving up smoking and alchohol, losing weight, reducing salt intake and fatty foods, doing exercise and making a habit of having regular medical check ups and controlling blood pressure.

Every minute counts
“Brain damage caused by a stroke greatly depends on how long the condition lasts and which areas of the brain were affected. Therefore, being able to identify the symptoms in order to get to hospital as soon as possible can significantly improve the severity of this disease”. This was explained by Isabel Casado, deputy director general of SAMUR, who referred to one of the campaign’s slogans, namely “Run. Every minute counts” in order to stress thatone of the keys to successfully dealing with a stroke is the speed at which the initial symptoms are recognized and the emergency services are contacted. The other key factor is, undoubtedly, prevention.

Giant brain in Madrid city center

Together with the entities collaborating on this campaign, Fundación MAPFRE has set up an inflatable marquee in a semi-circle shape, to imitate the shape of a brain in order to serve as a way of drawing people’s attention to the high number of strokes and raise more awareness of the importance of acting in time and knowing what symptoms to look out for. Neurologists, nurses from the Stroke Units and experts in emergency services from SUMMA 112 and SAMUR will be on hand this weekend to explain to passersby how to take care of their brains, as well as the warning signs that mean you need to act quickly and what the Stroke Code consists of. The marquee will be open to the public on Saturday, 26 October, from 11am to 8pm and on Sunday, 27 October, from 10am to 8pm, in the plaza de Santo Domingo, in Madrid city center.