Tuesday, October 3, 2017

As a survivor and a clinician I know that strokes can be prevented

Alexander Kortsiaris is President of HAS - the Greek Stroke Association, here he shares his experience of stroke and highlights the benefits of annual health checks and following a Mediterranean diet.

Before the stroke did you have any idea that you were at a risk of stroke?
A stroke did not seem probable at all, since I had shown no relevant indications with the sole exception perhaps for a marginal hereditary element since both my parents died of stroke in an old age. It had never crossed my mind that I would become the Chairman of a Scientific Society, not only because of my capacity as a University Professor, but mainly as a patient.

When and how did you realize that you were having a stroke?
I suffered a stroke on 30th June 2010. It was characterized as a dissection of my right carotis. Those days I was in Oslo, Norway, attending a Medical Congress and I was suffering from severe headaches. On the 30th of June I was with my wife in the airport ready to fly back to Greece when I felt an intense pain starting from the right top of my head and going down to my neck. I fell down and everything in my life changed…

Can you tell us a bit about your life before stroke?
I was working as a University Professor in Medical School. I was travelling every week from Thessaloniki to Alexandroupolis and back. I was elected Assistant Chancellor at the University and my life was interesting but at the same time stressful.

How has life changed since the stroke?
The biggest change in my life occurred when I realized that I could not walk properly and I could not move my left hand from the elbow to the fingers. This means that I cannot drive and I need some body by my side when I walk outside of the house.

What steps do you take now to prevent stroke? How are you working to reduce your specific risks?
I never ceased following the instructions of my doctors as regards the pharmaceutical treatment and physiotherapy. However, I also continue believing in God and obeying my Gerontas, fasting, confessing and participating in holy mysteries.

What would you say to other people to make them take stroke prevention seriously?
In order to prevent a stroke, people have to have yearly check ups, follow the Mediterranean cuisine and reduce stress.

What is your main reason for raising awareness of stroke prevention?
I strongly believe that people in many cases can prevent stroke if they follow their doctors’ instructions and I think we should work in this direction.

A Greek translation of our brochure on stroke prevention can be downloaded from the World Stroke Day Campaign Toolkit.

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