Accidents or Brain Vascular Attacks (CVA) in Chile are the second cause of death and the first cause of acquired disability in adults, according to data from the Ministry of Health between 2019-2022. In addition, throughout his life, one in four people in Chile will suffer this sudden loss of neurological function that is caused by the obstruction or rupture of a cerebral blood vessel.
On this October 29, a day dedicated internationally to raising awareness about this medical emergency, the president of the Chilean Association of Encephalic Vascular Diseases (Aceve), Pablo Lavados, assures that the detection of symptoms and prevention are key.
“Although Cerebrovascular Accidents are very frequent and have a high mortality, the good news is that 90% are preventable with a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal weight, not smoking, stress management and routine medical controls especially to keep blood pressure low and cholesterol low, ”he says.
However, another area to consider is training to deal with a stroke, since reaction time is crucial when it comes to avoiding neurological damage.
“Being able to identify the symptoms of a stroke in time means gaining valuable minutes and seconds to firstly avoid the death of a person and secondly reduce the sequelae produced by the death of neurons that occur during ischemia (reduced blood flow to the brain) or a cerebral hemorrhage (rupture of an artery within the brain). In this sense, identifying, knowing how to react and adequately inform without expecting the symptoms to improve, is essential”, adds the specialist.
Symptoms and risk factors
Catherine Volaric, coordinating doctor of Neurology at Clínica Bupa Santiago, explains that “there are mainly two types of cerebrovascular accidents: ischemic or cerebral infarction, which is caused by the obstruction of a vessel, and hemorrhagic, which is caused by its rupture” .
“If the blood flow is stopped or altered, the brain stops receiving nutrients and oxygen normally, with which the brain cells can be damaged, generating sequelae. Therefore, in the presence of signs, we must act immediately, since that time is very valuable”, adds the neurologist.
Cerebrovascular accidents or strokes, as they are also known, are accompanied by symptoms such as loss of strength on one side of the body (which can include the face, arm and leg); language disturbance (slurred speech or difficulty understanding what is being said); decreased or complete loss of feeling on one side of the body, can also present as a sudden, extremely severe headache.
“In case of detecting any of these symptoms, it is essential that the person go immediately to an emergency service, since there is a very short space of time to perform a treatment called cerebral thrombolysis, which consists of removing the clot lodged in the artery , which on many occasions leaves the patient with a significant or complete recovery from their symptoms, avoiding sequelae. According to the figures we handle, in Chile there are 140 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, so it is important that people know the warning signs,” says Dr. Volaric.
Anyone can have a stroke, but there are risk factors or behaviors that lead to it. The main ones are high blood pressure, advanced age (over 60 years), smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes mellitus and a sedentary lifestyle.
Protected brain spaces
Although today this disease is not considered occupational in the country, the Chilean Association of Encephalic Vascular Diseases (Aceve) together with the Spanish Foundation for Ictus Brake and Mutual Capacitation, are promoting a campaign to accredit Brain-protected spaces in the country, it is that is, facilities that have at least 25% of their workers trained to identify and react in time to strokes.
“Certifying Brain-protected Spaces is synonymous with life, with being able to be on the friendly side of statistics, thanks to the preparation of people trained to detect and deal with a stroke in a good way. Therefore, the call is to worry and take care of ourselves voluntarily, without waiting for a law to force us, but rather thinking about the lives that can be saved if companies have their collaborators trained to respond in a timely manner”, said Víctor Hugo Navia of Aceve.
It should be noted that the initiative has the experience of Spain as one of its benchmarks where venues such as the Real Madrid stadium, the Royal Theater; the Senate and the Spanish Red Cross, among others, already have the stamp that distinguishes them as capable of reacting to an episode like these.