stroke

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...
The stroke industry is united by a common goal, to develop effective solutions and provide access to treatment which prevents people dying or living a life of dependency because of stroke. World Stroke Day today is a pertinent reminder as to why we work tirelessly, to develop these solutions and deliver the right care so that every 6 seconds a life does not have to be lost to stroke 1 , as is the situation today. Let’s be under no illusion, this is a big task, requiring unwavering commitment and collaboration. Stroke is too big of a challenge for anyone to tackle alone. However, through remarkable partnerships, stroke care has benefitted from some incredible advancements since World Stroke Day was established back in 2006. Perhaps once of the most notable advancements was in the late 1990’s with the introduction of the first recognised treatment for stroke, the ‘clot buster’ Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA) which worked to the goal of dissolving the blood clot - and it is still widely used today. Some 20 years after that, everything really changed when mechanical thrombectomy was proven as the most significant advancement in the history of stroke treatment, showing improved outcomes when used together with TPA. It is through collaboration and partnerships that our understanding of and dealing with blood clots has improved enormously and informing advancements in mechanical thrombectomy, whereby clots are removed from the main arteries supplying the brain with blood. However, we are not there yet since stroke is still a global leading cause of death and disability, which means our work is therefore far from done. My opinion is that ischemic stroke is a battle against blood clots, the main cause of ischemic stroke and accounting for 87% of all cases 2 . As in all battles, how do...