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Stroke: the symptoms to recognize, the number to call

In one second 32,000 neurons. In one minute 1.9 million neurons. They are the irreversible damages that accumulate immediately after being hit by a stroke. And they are the reason why every minute is precious and it is important to spread the timely recognition of stroke symptoms as much as possible in order not to delay, even by just a few minutes, the emergency call at 112 or 118. # Ogniminutèprezioso is also the hashtag that Alice Italia Odv (Association for the fight against cerebral stroke) launches on the occasion of the October 29, like every year, the World Day against Stroke.

«When it comes to stroke the time management is key because every lost second or minute can cause problems, “he said Andrea Vianello, new president of the Association and director of RaiNews. He too, like other 150,000 Italians every year, has been suffering from a stroke: in this article you can read his story.

Stroke: the symptoms to recognize

Stroke occurs because the brain suddenly stops getting enough blood and oxygen. “There can be two cause: the closure of an artery and therefore a break in the blood. Or the rupture of an artery which results in what we call a cerebral hemorrhage, ”he explains Mauro Silvestrini, president of the Italian Stroke Association (ISA) and head of the Neurological Clinic of Ospedali Riuniti in Ancona. “The brain controls every single action, so when a stroke occurs and the power to the brain is cut off, suddenly one of its functions ceases to exist. Depending on the affected area of ​​the brain, there may be different signs. The main ones are:

  • difficulty speaking or to understand what is being said;
  • inability to move half of the face (crooked mouth on one side);
  • reduced vision, split or confused;
  • strong headache;
  • awkwardness motor;
  • loss of strength in an arm or leg;
  • sudden reduction of sensitivity;
  • inability from to coordinate the movements.

The numbers to call

If these symptoms appear suddenly, you must immediately think about a stroke and call immediately 112 (where the single emergency number is active, i.e. in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio (prefix 06), Liguria, Lombardy, Piedmont, Eastern Sicily, Valle d’Aosta and in the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano.) or the 188.

The useful time

The time window to intervene after a stroke is enclosed within the first 4-6 hours maximum. Although a recent studio published in the journal Stroke reports that the space for effective intervention has now been extended to 24 ore. However, these are cases in which brain damage is limited. And that’s not always the case. The brain, in fact, is composed of structures that are not able to regenerate, therefore the more time passes, the more the parts get damaged so irreversible and it will be difficult to recover with rehabilitation.

Elderly population, more strokes

Today many of the risk factors and methods to mitigate their danger are known (healthy lifestyle, nutrition, periodic checks, etc.). However, there is a risk factor against which nothing can be done: the increase in the average age of the population. The elderly are the most predisposed because the arteries undergo physiological aging and are more prone to deterioration and rupture.

Risk factors: atrial fibrillation

The vast majority (+ 80%) of strokes are generated by consequences that do not concern the brain, but the heart. And indeed one of the main risk factors for ischemic stroke is the atrial fibrillation. It is a cardiac arrhythmia that affects about 1 million people in Italy and is the cause of about 20% of ischemic strokes. «Who is affected has a four times greater risk of having a stroke. It is generally very serious and disabling because the embolus that starts from the heart closes arteries of a larger caliber, with ischemic damage to larger portions of the brain »specifies Ciro Indolfi, president of the Italian Society of Cardiology.

It is therefore essential intercept as quickly as possible patients with atrial fibrillation, because «prevent occlusion we use in diagnosed patients anticoagulant drugs that I am capable of greatly reduce the risk of stroke. It is a great therapy effective” let the expert know.

The numbers of stroke

Brain stroke, in Italy, it represents the third cause of death, after cardiovascular diseases and neoplasms. Almost 150,000 Italians are affected every year and half of the survivors remain with severe disability problems. In Italy, the people who have had a stroke and have survived, with more or less disabling results, are now about 1 million. But the phenomenon is growing. Both because there is a progressive aging of the population and because of the improvement of currently available therapies.

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