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Experts: Stroke patients could be better looked after


Every minute of a stroke counts to reduce permanent damage

May 10, 2018 is the “Day against the Stroke”. According to the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Munich (FAU), stroke is the third leading cause of death in Germany. In order to save the lives of those affected and to keep any permanent damage as low as possible, fast and competent medical help is required. Experts recommend comprehensive support from telemedicine, where specialized specialists can help with the right care outside the metropolitan areas.

Every year around 270,000 people in Germany suffer a stroke. According to the FAU, only 25 percent of those affected will be completely healthy again. In contrast to the past, there are now good treatment options for a stroke. However, a quick start to treatment and a competent approach is a prerequisite for effective treatment. But not every hospital specializes in such therapy. With the help of telemedicine, an expert could be directly connected via a screen that guides and supports the specialists on site.

Doing the right thing is crucial

Stroke as a dangerous disease is still often underestimated. Many sufferers and relatives are unsettled when an acute emergency occurs and do not know how to act. Such an attack often occurs completely unexpectedly. The most important thing is to make a quick emergency call over the phone, because every minute counts in the event of a stroke.

Early treatment and competent action

Professor Dr. Stefan Schwab, director of the Neurological Clinic of the University Hospital Erlangen, reports that from the beginning of a stroke, around 1.9 million nerve cells, 14 billion synapses and 12 kilometers of nerve fibers are destroyed every minute. "In the acute situation of a stroke, two things count above all: the early start of treatment and competent action," reports the expert in a press release on the "Day against the stroke". Immediate care for those affected is very important, ideally at a stroke station, a so-called stroke unit, explains Schwab.

Bavaria as a pioneer in telemedical stroke care

There are 50,000 stroke patients in Bavaria every year. Outside of the metropolitan areas, there may be a long way to a specialized stroke center. With the help of telemedicine, however, this spatial distance can be quickly overcome and patient care in the event of a stroke can be improved. The STENO stroke network was founded in Northern Bavaria in 2007. Three stroke centers in Erlangen, Bayreuth and Nuremberg work with 18 clinics from Middle and Upper Franconia and parts of Upper Palatinate and South Thuringia to improve emergency care there with the help of telemedicine.

About the telemedicine concept

Via a video consultation, specialists in the care of strokes support the doctors in the connected regional clinics. "In this way, neurological expertise can be made available at any time, wherever it is needed, without any time delays," explains the STENO network coordinator Dr. Lorenz Breuer. Already 12,500 patients per year can benefit from this support.

What happens in the brain after a stroke?

In the event of a stroke, the supply of the brain cannot be guaranteed due to vascular occlusion or bleeding. Certain brain functions fail. The symptoms that occur depend on the affected area of ​​the brain. Typical symptoms include:

  • hemiplegia symptoms,
  • Feeling disorders,
  • Numbness of one half of the body,
  • Speech disorders,
  • Visual disturbances,
  • Balance disorders,
  • Nausea.

More than half of all strokes can be avoided

The FAU reports that more than half of all strokes could be prevented through targeted preventive measures and a healthy lifestyle. In order to reduce the risk of stroke, sufficient physical activity, a balanced diet, no smoking and the avoidance of excessive alcohol consumption are important. The most common risk factors include high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation), which are easy to treat today. Strokes can be prevented by regular checks and minimization of the risk factors. (vb)

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