Stroke centre to open at KEMH
Courses should be offered for caregivers to help people recover from strokes, a campaigner for the physically disabled said yesterday.
Willard Fox, the chairman of the Bermuda Physically Handicapped Association, welcomed news that a specialist stroke centre was to be opened at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Hospitals Board said four to five Bermuda residents suffered a stroke every week — between 208 and 260 people a year.
Mr Fox said that he hoped the new centre would lead to more emphasis on therapy for survivors of strokes.
He said he had talked to stroke victims over the years whose treatment was delayed because their physiotherapists had left the island for weeks at a time.
Mr Fox said: “Therapy does not necessarily heal you, but therapy gets you back as far as you can go, but it has to be consistent.”
He added: “Doctors should work with therapists and therapists should work with caregivers because you don't want caregivers damaging your patients.”
He added that caregivers should get basic training on how to work with patients who have suffered a stroke to help them recover.
Mr Fox said caregivers or family members often had no specialist knowledge and the condition of patients could worsen as a result.
The KEMH unit is to be opened in partnership with Maryland-based Johns Hopkins Medical.
Victor Urrutia, of Johns Hopkins Medical, said a stroke unit in Bermuda could reduce mortality and disability.
Dr Urrutia added that stroke units had been proved to cut deaths by at least 14 per cent and the number of people left disabled by a stroke by 18 per cent.
He said KEMH already had the staff and equipment to do the job, but the Johns Hopkins team would provide expert guidance on how to best treat stroke victims.
Dr Urrutia explained that all healthcare staff involved in the recovery of stroke patients would work together to ensure the best treatment possible.
He said: “We will develop a protocol to ensure that all patients are treated faster.”
Dr Urrutia added that treatment of a stroke patient worked better the faster it was administered.
He said: “Bermuda is already taking care of stroke patients, but we will enhance the process so we can formally work as a stroke centre.”
“The hospital is ready to become a stroke centre.”
Dr Urrutia added: “We will be measuring the outcome and process on an ongoing basis so it can be optimised and improved.”
He said the collection of information would allow healthcare staff to assess how effective the process was and help improve the level of care for patients.
He added that the risk factor for a stroke was high in Bermuda because about 20 per cent of the population was aged over 65.
Dr Urrutia said: “The older you are, the more likely you are to have a stroke.”
Strokes can affect anyone, but those who have high blood pressure, heart disease, are obese, smoke or use illegal drugs run a higher risk.
Studies have found that black African, black Caribbean and people of South Asian origin on average suffer strokes ten years earlier than white people.
Strokes are the second biggest cause of death worldwide.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. There are two main types: ischemic, because of a lack of blood flow, and haemorrhagic, because of bleeding.
4 to 5 The number of people who suffer strokes in Bermuda every week
14 million First-time strokes recorded worldwide in 2016
55 The age after which people are most likely to have a stroke
2035 The year in which worldwide stroke-related illness, disability and early death is expected to double from today’s figures
6.2 million Deaths from strokes a year globally