PASAY CITY, 5 October 2019–In light of the upcoming World Stroke Day on October 29, the Angels Initiative, a healthcare program that aims to improve hospital care for people who just suffered a stroke, recently hosted a roundtable for the media called, “Angels Initiative: Improving Stroke Care in Asia,” at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
The media roundtable was held in conjunction with the Asia Pacific Stroke Conference (APSC) in Manila on October 2-5, 2019. The APSC focused on highlighting the burden of stroke, globally and locally in the Philippines. The event also featured global and regional key opinion leaders, which includes spokespersons from APSC, Angels Initiative and the World Stroke Organization (WSO).
Stroke: A Common killer
When does stroke exactly happen? A stroke, or “brain attack,” occurs when blood circulation to the brain fails. Brain cells can die from decreased blood flow and the resulting lack of oxygen. There are two broad categories of stroke: those caused by a blockage of blood flow and those caused by bleeding into the brain. A blockage of a blood vessel in the brain or neck, called an ischemic stroke, is the most frequent cause of stroke and is responsible for about 80 percent of strokes. [i]
People age 55 or older have a higher risk of stroke than younger people do. Men have a higher risk of stroke than women do. Women are usually older when they have strokes, and they’re more likely to die of strokes than are men.[ii]
“One third of 17 million people die from stroke after exhibiting its symptoms. Another third are left disabled permanently. It is alarming to note that two-thirds of stroke attacks in the world happen in Asia,” according to Prof. Dr. Jose Navarro, Chair of the Neurosonology Group of the Philippine Neurological Association and former President of the Stroke Society of the Philippines. “In the Philippines, stroke is the second leading cause of death”[iii]
It is also crucial to note that stroke is such a time-sensitive disease that for every minute it is left untreated, up to two million-brain cells die.
“There are more chances that an outcome will be most favorable when a stroke patient receives care 60 minutes upon arrival at the hospital,” explained Prof. Dr. Michael Brainin, President of the World Stroke Organization. “These patients are more likely to become independent and have a higher possibility of going back home after surviving the disease.”
Making hospitals stroke-ready
This is what the Angels Initiative addresses. For the initiative, treating patients as soon as possible, following the best standards of care in dedicated stroke centers, is important so that they can have better chances of survival and living disability-free lives. The initiative provides hospitals with the resources and the support they need as well as the needed training for their doctors and staff so that they can be truly stroke-ready.
Every country that the Angels Initiative is present in has an “Angels Consultants Team” that supports hospitals in implementing stroke care improvement programs. It provide doctors, nurses and ambulance crews with the training and support they need to create and improve the treatment pathways and processes around stroke care. The Angels consultants run assessments together with the hospitals; compare existing processes with guidelines; provide training and ongoing support for the hospital staff as well as process- and quality-monitoring. A hospital or center will be considered stroke-ready when it has reached a standardization of processes, which will ensure that stroke treatment is given within 60 minutes of the patient arriving at the hospital.[v]
In the Philippines, the initiative is in collaboration with local medical organizations, such as the Stroke Society of the Philippines and the Philippine Neurological Association and has made considerable progress since it began in 2017 with one Angels stroke consultant and 18 target hospitals in consultation. There are now 11 stroke-ready hospitals in the country with five fully-dedicated Angels consultants and 42 hospitals nationwide in active consultation.
According to Thomas Fischer, Boehringer Ingelheim Global Project Lead of the Angels Initiative, in 2018, 265 more Filipino patients were treated for stroke, which accounts to 11 percent more Filipino patients having a second chance at life. “There are currently 98 Philippine hospitals registered in the Angels Initiative website.”
For his part, Prof. Dr. Werner Hacke, Past President of World Stroke Organization, called for a work with politicians and healthcare providers for implementation plan of stroke care in the country, in a provincial approach, specially for rehabilitation and secondary prevention of stroke.
Launched by Boehringer Ingelheim and endorsed by the European Stroke Organization (ESO) and the World Stroke Organization (WSO), Angels Initiative began in Europe with a team of stroke experts back in November 2014 and now in SEASK (Southeast Asia and South Korea).
For hospitals that are interested in finding out more about the Angels Initiative and how they can be properly equipped to become stroke-ready, they can schedule a consultation with the Angels Team by registering through the official website: www.angels-initiative.com.