This is the third cause of death in Italy after cardiovascular diseases and neoplasms and, as opposed to what is believed, affects not only and exclusively the elderly. A stroke, which is a blood circulation disorder in the brain, occurs when an area of the brain is not sprayed correctly and consequently is damaged. It is caused by the sudden closure or rupture of a cerebral vessel and the consequent damage to the cerebral cells due to the lack of oxygen and nutrients in the blood (ischemia) or to the compression due to the blood coming out of the vessel (cerebral hemorrhage). We talked about this with Professor Simona Marcheselli, head of the Emergency Neurology Unit and Stroke Unit of Humanitas.
The first cause of disability
The stroke is the first absolute cause of disability: in Italy there are about 185,000 people who suffer from stroke every year: 150,000 of these are the new cases, while 35,000 are cases that are repeated after the first episode. 75% of stroke cases affect people older than 65, but it is a disease that also affects the younger population. Stroke can be ischemic or hemorrhagic: “An ischemic stroke is a condition in which a thrombus, a blood clot, occludes an artery in the brain, preventing a regular flow of blood – said Dr Marcheselli – while a hemorrhagic stroke is caused by the rupture of an artery in the brain. In this case, the blood is released and causes a hematoma, damaging or killing the surrounding neurons.
The symptoms that should not be underestimated at every age
One of the causes of cerebral hemorrhage is high blood pressure, which can also affect the young people and not only the over 65s. Ischemic stroke, on the other hand, affects older people more, and depends on a disorder of the heart rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation, or arteriosclerosis. “The first perceived symptom is fatigue in the movement of the limbs,” said the specialist -. Often those who have a stroke in progress complain of difficulty in seeing because it is like feeling that part of the field of vision disappears. You don’t remember words and it’s hard to talk. In the case of cerebral hemorrhage there is often a headache, but also a lack of strength, tingling and a lack of sensitivity in the arms and legs. When these symptoms occur, it is essential to consult the doctor immediately: “Ischemic stroke – concluded the teacher – must be treated within 4 or 5 hours, otherwise the drugs used to reopen the occluded vessels are likely to be not only useless but harmful.