70% of strokes are preventable
Stroke was considered as a problem of older people. Indeed, anyone can have a stroke. It is true that 70% of patients are aged 65 years and more. But we see a greater rise in earlier, even in young adults. Aged 50 now account for 10% of cases. Overall, the incidence of the disease continues to rise and, with the prospect of an increasingly aging population is likely to increase further in the next 15 or 20 years.
If we could control and properly treat all risk factors could prevent 70% of strokes. It is preventable and treatable. There are aspects of harmful habits: eating, overweight, smoking, alcohol abuse, sedentary lifestyle, influencing significantly. We know many risk factors that favor its presentation: as hypertension, diabetes, elevated lipids [cholesterol], especially atrial fibrillation, apnea. The age and family history of stroke are not modifiable factors. We need to understand and control these risk factors and act on lifestyle with a healthy diet, exercise, non smoking and be moderate in alcohol. Stroke was also seen in patients aged 35 years, but usually more related rarer causes such as alterations of the arterial walls and should draw attention to the influence of drugs or toxic substances as a cause of stroke. Preventive measures are aimed at both preventing a first episode of stroke and recurrences in patients who have already suffered an episode.
Life expectancy is higher in women than in men and stroke is more serious in the older. Stroke is more common in men, although women are more serious. This difference decreases and even reverses with age.
There is long life after stroke. We must not forget that not everything ends with discharge. There is a protocol to coordinate prevention, treatment in the acute phase and subsequent rehabilitation, for this we must expect the health system, and also with patients and their families. Stroke is a disease that generates great disability to many of the survivors. It is the leading cause of dependence in adults and the second leading cause of dementia in the world. It is a condition that leads to greater social and economic burden.