President of the European Stroke Organization (ESO)
Prof. Dafin Muresanu, Chair of the EAN Communication Committee interviews Dr. Bart van der Worp, President of the European Stroke Organisation.
Dear Dr. Van der Worp
In light of the MoU signed between EAN and the ESO, we would like to bring the work of your society to the attention of the EAN Pages readers.
1. Can you briefly introduce the ESO to the readers of the EAN Pages explaining its structure and activities?
ESO is an association with over 20,000 (associate) members, of whom most are neurologists, stroke physicians or researchers. The mission of ESO is to reduce the burden of stroke, primarily in Europe but also in other parts of the world. Key activities to reach this goal include the annual ESO Conference (ESOC) with over 5,5000 participants in 2019, the European Stroke Journal, stroke guidelines, and the implementation of the Stroke Action Plan for Europe 2018 to 2030. We also have stroke summer schools and winter schools directed at the education of our younger colleagues, and the ESO-EAST Programme to reduce disparities in stroke care between different regions in Europe.
2. ESO aims at reducing the burden of stroke in Europe. How can the MoU with EAN be of help in achieving this aim?
As just mentioned, one of our key activities is the implementation of the Stroke Action Plan for Europe, which was developed by ESO in collaboration with the patient organisation Stroke Alliance For Europe (SAFE). The four overarching targets of this plan for 2030 are a reduction in the absolute number of strokes in Europe by 10%; to treat 90% or more of all patients with stroke in Europe in a dedicated stroke unit as the first level of care; to have national plans for stroke encompassing the entire chain of care; and to implement national strategies for multisector public health interventions. Especially for the last two targets collaboration with EAN is essential, also because most of the stroke physicians in Europe are neurologists. EAN and ESO will need to act together to change policies at both the European and national levels.
3. Reducing the burden of stroke for those living with the sequelae of stroke is one of ESO’s priorities. You mention “public education” as an important tool. How will ESO address this important issue?
Most of the public education and the direct contacts with stroke patients are through the stroke patient organisation SAFE, with which ESO has a longstanding and strong relationship. One of the SAFE Board members is ‘observer’ in the meetings of the ESO Executive Committee. However, ESO also has its own targeted actions aimed at the general public. As an example, we recently had a press release to emphasise that even during the COVID-19 pandemic patients with stroke symptoms should present to hospital as soon as possible and that all efforts should be made to maintain the usual level of stroke care. The press release was based on the observation in a survey among stroke care providers in Europe that only one in five felt that stroke patients were receiving the usual acute and post-acute care at their hospital. We think that the lack of optimal care is likely to lead to a greater risk of death and a smaller chance of a good recovery. With this press release, we aimed to avoid unnecessary ‘collateral damage’ through inadequate treatment of patients with TIA or stroke.
4. We are currently fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. What are the three most important messages from ESO on this important topic?
- In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer patients with symptoms of TIA or stroke presented to the hospital and the care for these patients was often suboptimal. This is likely to lead to poorer functional outcomes and higher recurrence rates.
- ESO considers stroke care as an essential health service that should continue to have high priority.
- The general population should be informed that stroke is an emergency and that treatment is still available, so they must continue calling emergency services immediately in case of suspected stroke.
Dear Dr. van der Worp I thank you for this very interesting interview and wish you and ESO all the best.
D. Muresanu, Chair, EAN Communication Committee