The Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi has introduced a new service to help prevent prolonged brain damage for patients who suffer sudden stroke.
Cases of ischemic stroke due to diabetes and high blood pressure have become common with medics recommending that such patients get medical attention within an hour or two of occurrences.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving the brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. The standard treatments to reduce brain damage are thrombolytic medications which thin the blood to break down the blockage and mechanical removal of the clot using a catheter.
Thrombolytic medications need to be administered within few hours of the onset of the stroke. Alternately, removal by catheter also known as mechanical thrombectomy is most effective during the first eight hours of a stroke attack, but may still have good results in select patients up to 24 hours after a stroke.
This recently introduced treatment expertise, mechanical thrombectomy, makes use of a state-of-the-art catheter and stent to enter the blocked artery and remove the clot and produces much improved results than thrombolytic medications if carried out within 24 hours of the start of a stroke.
A catheter and stent can be inserted into the brain to remove the clot and allow return of blood flow, preventing any further brain damage.
Currently, Aga Khan University Hospital is the only facility offering this procedure in East and Central Africa.
“It is apparent that stroke attacks are becoming more frequent in Kenya and there’s need to have a fast-response unit to manage its conditions hence the establishment of the service. This increase is attributed to the growing numbers of people leading a sedentary lifestyle, including unhealthy diet of fast foods.
Coupled with lack of exercise, this results in obesity which tends to cause strokes and heart attacks,” Dr Edwin Mogere, a Consultant Neurosurgeon at Aga Khan University Hospital says.
To save the patient’s life and minimise disability, recognising symptoms and seeking medical attention in the shortest possible time is a matter of top priority. The most obvious indicator is numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg especially on one side of the body.