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 The golden hour is key to stroke management, neurologists say
 ( Published On Saturday 11 November 2017, 22 Safar 1439, Time: 6:21)

The golden hour is key to stroke management, neurologists say


The Saudi Stroke Association marked the World Stroke Day with a media event in Jeddah. The campaign, launched together with Boehringer Ingelheim, was part of an initiative to establish a comprehensive stroke management protocol nationwide.


Stroke is seen as a rapidly growing problem and an important cause of illness and death in Saudi Arabia. With an approximate population of 31 million as of 2017, research indicates that at least 20,000 new stroke cases, 4,000 deaths and 8,000 disabilities occur each year across the country. About 69 percent of these cases are ischemic stroke, where blood clots prevent oxygen from reaching parts of the brain.


Taking place at the King Abdulaziz Hospital in Jeddah, the event included a demonstration of the Door-to-Needle time, the moment stroke patients walk through hospital doors to when treatment is administered. When a stroke patient arrives at the hospital, the maximum time from door to administering of the treatment should not be more than 60 minutes.


Leading neurologist Dr. Mohamed Al-Mekhlafi, assistant professor, Stroke and Interventional Neurology, Department of Medicine at King Abdulaziz University and president of the Saudi Stroke Association, walked participants through the steps that take place when patients arrive at the hospital, where they are then sent to the triage nurse, who examines them, and upon confirmation, provides the required treatment. Patients are then taken for a laboratory test, where the core team performs a CT scan, and finally, an injection is administered to dissolve the stroke-causing clot. The entire process should not take more than 60 minutes to increase the probability of saving the patient.



Suffering a stroke is one of the most devastating medical emergencies that can happen to a person. About 17 million people worldwide suffer a stroke every year. One third of these people die as a consequence and another third are left permanently disabled. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), stroke is an increasingly growing health problem, with projections that deaths from it will nearly double by 2030. The Middle East region faces a double burden of the disease due to decreasing rates of communicable diseases and the growing rates of non-communicable diseases including stroke.


Dr. Al-Mekhlafi stated, Rapid treatment in specialized stroke units has been shown to reduce mortality, disability, complications and length of hospital stay. Neurologists are urging the implementation of correct protocols in hospitals Kingdomwide. These protocols are extremely crucial in the safe management of stroke, which will lead to saving lives and minimizing disability. The aim of the live demonstration was to highlight what exactly happens from the moment a patient walks into a hospital and raise awareness on the need for immediate, pathway-driven actions to expedite treatment and reduce stroke-related disability. We hope that these efforts will raise the awareness around the importance of establishing dedicated stroke care units across the Kingdom.


Symptoms of stroke can include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs on one side of the body, as well as speech impairment, trouble with eyesight, loss of balance as well as severe headache. Experts stressed that F.A.S.T is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke, which reflects Face Dropping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty and Time to call for support.



Mohamed El Dababy, general manager and head of Human Pharma of Near East, Middle East, Africa (NEMEA) at Boehringer Ingelheim, said, Stroke is one of the key causes of significant disability in the Kingdom and worldwide. Through the MENA Stroke Initiative, our primary objective is to provide a platform to bring together the leading neurologists in Saudi Arabia, in order to raise awareness on the need for proper and effective treatment of stroke as well as optimizing stroke management. We are working very closely with the Saudi Stroke Association and hospitals around the Kingdom. There has been an 800 percent increase in the number of stroke centers that provide thrombolysis treatment through the efforts of the Saudi Stroke Association with the support of Boehringer Ingelheim (from four centers in 2015 to 35 centers in 2017). We will continue to work with all stakeholder enhance stroke management in the Kingdom, so lives are not lost as a result of not being able to reach the nearest center at the right time. SG

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