More than Half of UAE Stroke Patients are Aged 45 or Younger; Minimally Invasive Technique Restores Blood Flow to the Brain, Allowing Patients to Walk and Talk Again
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s network of healthcare providers, has transformed the lives of 100 ischemic stroke patients with a revolutionary treatment that increases their chances of fully recovering and leading normal lives.
A stroke happens when the blood supply to all or part of the brain is interrupted, causing cell death. Most are caused by a blocked artery leading to the brain, or what is called an ischemic stroke.
The treatment, known as mechanical thrombectomy, is a minimally invasive procedure in which a catheter is inserted into the groin of the patient and then threaded through the artery where the blood clot is located in the brain. Physicians then use a stent retriever, a small device that grabs the blood clot in the brain and pulls it out through an aspiration catheter.
Mechanical thrombectomies have been described as a game-changer in the treatment of ischemic strokes, with recent studies finding that patients are more likely to fully recover if the blood clot is removed with a stent retriever.
“Mechanical thrombectomies are the biggest change in the treatment of stroke for the past 20 years,” said Dr. Ramón Navarro, a neurosurgeon with the Neurological Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
“The 100 patients we have treated suddenly developed symptoms of stroke, such as severe weakness and difficulty speaking depending on the part of the brain that is affected. If treated rapidly, the patients recover their previous life within days – the difference is incredible.”
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is the official stroke center for Abu Dhabi City, combining the capabilities of the hospital’s Emergency Medicine Institute, Imaging Institute, Neurological Institute and Heart & Vascular Institute to provide rapid, state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment of stroke, as well as long-term rehabilitation for patients.
“Patients coming into the Emergency Department with a potential stroke are always given high priority for immediate care by our world-class multidisciplinary team,” said Dr. Jacques Kobersy, chief of the Emergency Medicine Institute.
“We believe in Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s ‘Patient First’ motto, and aim to treat each patient compassionately throughout their treatment and recovery, which includes cutting-edge technologies and sophisticated therapies.”
Dr. Khalil Zahra, a neuro-interventional surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi who also performs mechanical thrombectomies, added: “In the Imaging Institute, patients undergo a thorough examination to decide if the clot needs to be removed. The change in our patients’ condition before and after the clot extraction is remarkable – often going from one-sided paralysis to normal after the clot extraction.
“Mechanical thrombectomy has transformed the lives of the 100 patients who have been treated by the multidisciplinary team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, many of whom come from all walks of life and are of varying ages.”
Stroke patients in the UAE are significantly younger than in other parts of the world. According to the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi and the Dubai Health Authority, about 50 per cent are aged 45 or younger, compared with a global average of 80 per cent of patients being 65 or older.
Each person experiences stroke differently; however, there are some symptoms that are common, including sudden loss of balance, sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes, one side of the face drooping when trying to smile, if someone raises their arms and one of them drifts down, or speech that is slurred or strange.
Ahead of World Stroke Day on October 29, it’s important to remember the words ‘BE FAST’, which stands for: Balance, Eyes, Face, Arms, and Speech, with the final ‘T’ standing for time, because speed in seeking medical attention is essential to avoiding permanent damage.
“If the oxygen supply is cut, brain tissue will cease to function in less than two minutes, and will suffer irreversible damage, leading to tissue death, after about three hours,” said Dr. Syed Irteza Hussain, one of the stroke neurologists at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. “If someone is experiencing a combination of these symptoms – or even just one – call immediately for an ambulance. Waiting can lead to permanent brain damage and disability.
“It’s essential to get the patient to the doctor as quickly as possible. Even if the symptoms seem small, it’s not worth taking any risk,” he concluded.