Stroke, ESO and The Economist

Stroke, ESO and The Economist – summary from the live global webinar ”Action on stroke  – policy approaches to prevention“

ESO president Valeria Caso was invited as a panellist to The Economist – live global webinar ”Action on stroke  – policy approaches to prevention“, which took place on 21 September 2017.

The webinar chaired by Martin Koehring, managing editor at The Economist Intelligence Unit’s thought leadership division, also included opinion leaders: Barbara Casadei (BHF professor of cardiovascular medicine, University of Oxford & president elect of the European Society of Cardiology), Mårten Rosenqvist (Professor of cardiology at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm), Masum Hossain (Senior global leader, BMS-Pfizer Alliance) and Markus Wager (Senior expert, German Stroke Foundation, vice president, Stroke Alliance for Europe).

Chair Martin Koehring introduced the webinar with a brief summary of an infographic study on approaches to stroke prevention provided by The Economist. Even though all 20 analysed countries exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations in the total number of physicians and have national screening recommendations, screening is not routinely implemented in clinical practice.

This is alarming as 80% of strokes would be preventable if stroke risk factors were well managed. Therefore the webinar focussed on the need for global strategies to increase awareness of highly recognised stroke risk factors, such as hypertension and atrial fibrillation, and how to improve screening programmes of these risk factors.

Our own president Valeria Caso called for more enough awareness among general practitioners that stroke is the number one cause for disability. She added that most risk factors for stroke would be modifiable using low-cost interventions, but, for this, awareness is imperative.

Barbara Casadei, the president elect of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), added possible strategies to improve awareness. For example, the ESC has published their guidelines in everyday language which can be distributed to patients in order to improve the patients’ self-responsibility in primary prevention. Timely, ESC is also testing a smartphone application for patients and doctors as a measure to implement the ESC-guidelines for atrial fibrillation.

The integration of innovative technologies, such as healthcare applications for smartphones to improve stroke awareness and primary prevention was discussed controversially among the panellists. On the one hand, innovative technologies could certainly increase awareness and self-responsibility among patients. On the other hand, it might cause anxiety and increase costs, particularly if smartphones communicate tentative diagnoses such as atrial fibrillation, without having the immediate reassurance from a health care professional.

Valeria Caso got the last word and concluded “we don’t need to reinvent the wheel; some European countries have wonderful models for primary prevention, whereas others have an excellent infrastructure for acute stroke care. Collaboration was the key point for stroke care in Europe.”

Altogether, The Economist webinar provides a very informative and entertaining discussion on different approaches to improve stroke prevention and it is highly recommendable for stroke physicians, general practitioners and health authorities alike.

Topics discussed in the webinar:

  1. To what extent are medical professions really properly trained to identify and also to treat stroke risk?
  2. What should we do to improve awareness of stroke risk facors at the population level?
  3. How can we improve screening policies in stroke prevention?
  4. How could we intergrate low cost technology for education, and for the detection, management, and monitoring of stroke risk factors?
  5. How best to use routinely collected clinically data to improve care?
  6. How can stroke prevention be implemented in a more intergrated and coherent way?