brain

Claiming a life every six seconds , it seems fair to say that stroke has reached epidemic proportions. In Europe alone, it accounts for 1.1 million deaths each year — that’s 10% of all deaths in men and 15% of all deaths in women . Today’s annual World Stroke Day is a poignant reminder to all of us that this disease should be at the top of our agenda. When I look at forecasts, I am struck by the steep increase in the burden of stroke that is on the horizon. The number of stroke events in Europe will rise to 1.5 million by 2025. Stroke is considered a leading cause of long-term disability and the leading preventable cause of disability in Europe. And, for me, preventable is the key word here. It begs the question what more could we do to change the trajectory of stroke? Approximately 87% of all strokes are Acute Ischaemic Stroke (AIS), occurring when a blood clot prevents blood flow to the brain. The difference between life and death, and functional independence or disability, is tied to timely restoration of blood flow to the oxygen-starved brain after a stroke occurs. There are two treatments recognised as the current standard of care for AIS; blood thinning drugs such as antithrombotic agents, and a minimally invasive clot removal procedure called mechanical thrombectomy. Antithrombotic agents reduce the risk of stroke and prolong life, but their use can arguably be disruptive to the patient day-to-day — posing challenges and requiring frequent, regular doctor visits to monitor treatment. On the other side, during the mechanical thrombectomy a catheter is threaded through an artery to the brain so the blood clot can be physically captured and quickly removed with the likes of stent retrievers, swiftly restoring blood flow. For me, it’s...