Could you please introduce yourself and tell us about your background as well as your role at CERENOVUS?
I am a clinician and scientist who has served as an interventional neuroradiologist and endovascular neurosurgeon in various European countries for more than 20 years. I am currently the Head of Global Medical Affairs at CERENOVUS. CERENOVUS, part of Johnson & Johnson MedTech, is an emerging leader in neurovascular care and is focused on providing solutions used in this field.
CERENOVUS is a world leader in neurovascular care. Can you tell us more about your main mission?
Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. At CERENOVUS, we are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in stroke care to deliver on our promise to change the trajectory of stroke. This commitment is inspired by our long-standing heritage and commitment to protecting patients from stroke-related disability, and we offer a broad portfolio of devices used in the endovascular treatment of hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke so that patients can return to their fully functional lives.
Strokes occur when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted. Can you tell us more about why strokes happen and what happens to brain cells when their blood supply is cut off?
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. Therefore, there are two types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic.
Ischemic strokes – which are the most common and account for 87% of all cases – occur when a blood clot travels to a vessel in the brain and cuts off the blood supply. This prevents brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients, and brain cells can begin to die within minutes.
Another type of stroke, hemorrhagic, is often less common than ischemic stroke, but can be more severe. These types of stroke are caused by the rupture of a brain aneurysm or the rupture of weakened blood vessels.
Through better public awareness, we can reduce brain strain. What are some stroke symptoms people should be aware of?
The best way to remember the signs and symptoms of a stroke is with the acronym FAST:
F – Face drop
And – Arm weakness or difficulty raising one or both arms
S – Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
T- Time to call for help in an emergency
If you suspect you or someone is having a stroke, it is critic seek emergency care immediately. Those of us in the neurovascular field often say that “time is brain” – meaning that the more time goes by without treatment, the more brain cells die, reducing the chances of recovery or survival. Acting quickly at the first signs of stroke symptoms can help patients get the early treatment they need not only to survive, but also to recover and live fully functional lives.
But it’s not just the signs and symptoms of stroke that patients should be aware of. It is important to note that communities of color are disproportionately affected by stroke—they often have pre-existing conditions that increase stroke risk and have poorer experiences with early treatment and access to stroke care. At CERENOVUS, we are working to address these disparities in stroke care by educating patients about healthy lifestyle choices they can make to reduce their risk of stroke, helping to build trust in healthcare systems, and improving facility readiness to enable patients with cerebrovascular accident quickly identified and sorted.
All of these factors in concert—recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke quickly, understanding the importance of prompt medical attention, and taking healthy steps to reduce your risk of stroke—are important messages that everyone should know.
Many cases of stroke are preventable. What are some risk factors for stroke and how do you think people can reduce their individual risk of stroke?
Up to 90% of strokes can be prevented. One of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of stroke is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes managing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and atrial fibrillation (AFib), as well as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
According to the World Stroke Organization, 1 in 4 of us will have a stroke in our lifetime. Can you tell us more about how strokes are treated?
The two types of stroke are treated differently. For ischemic stroke caused by blood clots, a procedure called mechanical thrombectomy (MT) – which uses a catheter threaded into a femoral or radial artery to remove a clot from a patient’s artery in the brain – works well in more than half of patients. treated to regain functional independence.
The earlier the MT is performed – and the faster the clot can be extracted in the number of passes performed – the higher the chance of success. When MT achieves significant or excellent “reperfusion,” or restoration of blood flow to the brain, patients experience the greatest benefits from the first pass. At CERENOVUS, we have created the CERENOVUS Stroke Solutions™ portfolio, which offers a comprehensive and integrated set of devices to assist physicians in mechanical thrombectomy procedures. Developed from strong research and clinical insights, the CERENOVUS portfolio is designed to address real-world scenarios that clinicians may face.
For hemorrhagic strokes, treatment options may include interventional procedures to stop the bleeding. CERENOVUS offers a suite of products for the treatment of aneurysms and vascular abnormalities that are also research-based and evidence-based, including embolic coils, stents and vascular reconstruction devices.
How can life be affected after a stroke? Can you tell us more about some of the different disabilities that stroke patients can experience?
Strokes can have life-changing results. The main disability that results from a stroke is paralysis or motor control. Strokes can also lead to sensory disturbances such as the inability to feel temperature, touch, position or pain. Sensory deficits could affect the ability to recognize objects and could lead to an inability to recognize even one’s own limbs. These sensory disturbances can lead to chronic pain that affects the ability to function.
However, the result of a stroke is not only physical disabilities. One in four stroke victims will suffer from aphasia, which is a problem understanding or using language. This could affect a person’s ability to express thoughts through writing and words, often leading to frustration and emotional upset. Depression is also not uncommon in stroke patients. So while changes in physical abilities may be immediately recognizable, the mental health aspects of stroke are also important for identification and treatment.
The theme for World Stroke Day 2022 is ‘Save #PreciousTime’. What does this topic mean to you and why is early access to quality stroke care so important?
I think this year’s theme is appropriate because time is extremely precious when it comes to stroke. The longer a stroke goes untreated, the more likely patients are to suffer long-term disability or even death.
For every minute someone has a stroke, an estimated 1.9 million brain cells are lost. Since time equals brain cells, the faster a person can be treated for a stroke, the more likely it is that their brain—and therefore arm, leg, speech, or thinking ability—can recover.
What do you think are the main benefits of social media campaigns and awareness events like World Stroke Day? Do you hope that through these awareness campaigns, stroke symptoms will be recognized earlier and treatment will be started earlier?
A stroke is extremely dangerous and unfortunately quite common – as I mentioned, it is the second leading cause of death worldwide. In fact, it’s so common that someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, and 13.7 million people experience their first stroke every year. Prompt response and treatment when a stroke occurs has a big impact on recovery and can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. This makes awareness-raising opportunities such as World Stroke Day and other social media campaigns critical to sharing information. I believe that by raising awareness of the signs, symptoms and risk factors of stroke we can make a big difference as a more aware and informed public can act and help save lives.
But it’s not just social media campaigns that make a difference. Advocacy organizations like Get Ahead of Stroke and MT2020+ – and their partnerships with industry leaders like CERENOVUS – are working not just to create public awareness, but to make real change. These efforts have resulted in updated EMS triage and transport protocols for stroke patients in the US and increased access to mechanical thrombectomy procedures worldwide.
What are the next steps for you and CERENOVUS?
As I’ve shared before, we’re committed to changing the trajectory of stroke so patients can get back to their lives. This means we are extremely focused on ongoing research and development to provide clinicians with the tools they need to address unmet clinical needs.
Developed from strong research and clinical insights, the CERENOVUS portfolio is designed to address real-world scenarios that clinicians may face. In particular, the ischemic portfolio informs the CERENOVUS Neurothromboembolic Initiative (NTI). NTI has a deep understanding of the different types of clots and is in a unique position to use the insights from scientific studies to create innovative ischemic products that will help change the trajectory of stroke.
As a physician, I am pleased to support the work of CERENOVUS and its NTI team in the coming months and into 2023 in innovating and bringing new products to market within both the ischemic and hemorrhagic portfolios.
Where can readers find more information?
Visit https://www.jnjmedicaldevices.com/en-US/condition/stroke for more information about stroke, risk factors and treatment options.
To learn more about CERENOVUS and its solutions, visit https://www.jnjmedtech.com/en-US/companies/cerenovus.
About Dr. Patrick Brouwer
Dr. Patrick Brouwer is a clinician and scientist who has made significant contributions to the field of interventional neuroradiology and endovascular surgery. Before joining CERENOVUS as a manager Worldwide Medical Affairs, for more than 20 years he worked in senior positions as a neurointerventional specialist in various university hospitals in Europe. A key thought leader in his field, Patrick has published nearly 100 scientific papers and book chapters and lectured, including invited professorships, on more than 400 occasions worldwide on a variety of topics related to neurointervention.
In addition, Patrick has contributed by serving in various board positions in key societies such as the European Society for Minimally Invasive Neurological Therapy (ESMINT) and the World Federation of Interventional and Therapeutic Neuroradiology (WFITN). He received his medical degree with honors from the Free University in the Netherlands.
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