Second SAFE Regional Conference held in Krakow, Poland on 12th June

Second SAFE Regional Conference held in Krakow, Poland on 12th June

SAFE member organisations from Eastern and Central European cluster gathered on 12th June in Krakow, Poland to discuss the following items:

  • A review of SAFE’s work, including the updating of its strategy and a discussion of its relationship with, and activities addressing the importance of co-morbidities
  • Discussion of the implementation of the Stroke Action Plan for Europe, focusing particularly on work that can be done in each country and stakeholder engagement and partnership in advocacy
  • An update on the Romanian Presidency event
  • Translations of materials and promotion of the prevention website
  • Utilisation of the SSOFT website to enable growth of SSOs and more effective advocacy
  • Preliminary findings and messages arising from the Economic Impact of Stroke research
  • SAFE Research Projects
  • SAFE and World Stroke Day 2019
  • MERZ Spasticity project
  • Round-up of activity from attending members


SAFE is thankful to Boehringer Ingelheim for the continued sponsorship of our Regional Conferences.

SAFE’s political activities presented and promoted during 30th Dubrovnik Summer Stroke School

SAFE’s political activities presented and promoted during 30th Dubrovnik Summer Stroke School

At the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Summer Stroke School in Dubrovnik, Croatia, the Croatian Academy of Sciences, Department of Medical Sciences published a book “Healthy Lifestyle and Prevention of Stroke and Other Brain Impairments”. SAFE Board member, Prof. Anita Arsovska from North Macedonia, contributed to this book with information about SAFE and our political activities.

30th Dubrovnik Summer Stroke School: Healthy Lifestyle and Prevention of Stroke and Other Brain Impairments, International Course, endorsed by European Stroke Organization (ESO), World Stroke Organization (WSO), European Academy of Neurology (EAN) and World Federation of Neurology (WFN) took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, at the Inter-University Center, from  3-7th of June 2019.

The scientific programme was exciting and encompassed many aspects of stroke and related disorders (starting from prevention, acute diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation) delivered by international faculty from Albania, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Israel, N. Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia. Traditionally, the school was attended by numerous participants (residents and young specialists in Neurology) from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Serbia and the Netherlands.

“The Voice of the Stroke Survivor Represented Through Stroke Alliance for Europe” was delivered by Prof. Anita Arsovska (N. Macedonia), SAFE Board Member, with a special focus on the European Stroke Action Plan 2018-2030 and the most important overarching targets that need to be fulfilled by 2030.

Further on, the political activities of SAFE were presented, such as regular Stroke Summits in the European Parliament and the European Commission of the Regions in Brussels, as well as the importance of collaboration with other societies and initiatives (such as ESO, Angels Initiative, WSO etc).

SAFE would like to thank our Croatian colleagues from Hrvatsko društvo za prevenciju moždanog udara, our member organisation, for their support and for enabling this promotion of SAFE’s activities.

Prof. Vida Demarin with faculty and participants of the 30th Summer Stroke School in Dubrovnik 2019.

About 30th Dubrovnik Summer Stroke School

Course Director was Prof. dr. Vida Demarin, FAAN, FAHA, FESO, FEAN, FWSO, Fellow of Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, University of Zagreb, Croatia and the Board of Directors consisted of Prof. dr. Roman Haberl, University of Munich, Germany, Prof. dr. Kurt Niederkorn, University of Graz, Austria, Prof. dr. David Russell, Univeristy of Oslo, Norway and Assist. prof. dr. Hrvoje Budinčević, Sveti Duh University Hospital, Zagreb. Colleagues from the Dubrovnik General Hospital participated in the Organizing Committee (Dr Andrijana Bogoje Raspopović, Assist. Prof. dr. Denis Čerimagić, Dr Mira Ivanković and Dr Maro Vodopić) and also served as Course Coordinators (Dr Andrijana Bogoje Raspopović, Dr. Petra Črnac Žuna and Petra Dalić). The Summer Stroke School was organized by the International Institute for Brain Health, Central and Eastern European Stroke Society, Croatian Stroke Society, School of Medicine, University Of Zagreb, Inter University Centre Dubrovnik, WFN Applied Research Group on the Organisation and Delivery of Care and the Society for Neuropsychiatry and co-organized by the Department of Medical Sciences – Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

The 30th Summer Stroke School was accredited by 4 ECTS points and provided an excellent and enjoyable platform to hear great lectures, interact with faculty, share experience and meet colleagues from different countries.

Stroke Survivors’ needs in Slovakia: Socialization of stroke survivors as the biggest issue

Stroke Survivors’ needs in Slovakia: Socialization of stroke survivors as the biggest issue

“When patients after stroke meet and can get together with others – even with non-stroke-patients, their self confidence grows, they start to connect with people, and that is for us very important” says Alžbeta Husarovič, the President of the Slovakian Stroke Support Organisation Poráž and a stroke survivor.

SAFE: What is one issue related to the life after stroke in your country that you think needs special attention?
AH: If we have to choose only one issue, it would probably be the socialization. Because with socialization starts all the patient´s effort to ´start over´ and to be able to get back to his previous life as much as it is possible. We believe, that step by step this might be the key  to the mental recovery, which is as important as the physical one.

SAFE: What would be the solution, i.e. what is your organisation’s position regarding this issue?
AH: During the last couple months, we at our organisation Poráž are focusing on different activities, which might be helpful to stroke survivors.

We believe that one of those is our Charity run (called Beh neporazených) which unites the  patients with healthy people, who are running to raise money and create better conditions for patients.  This is the most powerful (but also emotional) project of our organization so far, where the socialization of stroke survivors is really visible. Other our project is focusing on small sheltered workshop, where the patients with disability becoming a real paid work. Sheltered workshop is going to be a place where again patients are exposed to real life and can communicate and bond with others.

SAFE: Please tell us more about your organisation.
AH: Our association Poráž was created in 2013 by Alžbeta Husarovič, stroke survivor. We have three important activities.

  1. We are trying to spread stroke awareness by organizing various public events such as Unbeaten RUN, Fashion Show etc where we always invite stroke survivors, famous faces and media people.
  2. We help individuals, stroke survivors and their families in three ways. Financially, by lending to survivors physiotherapeutical equipment and guide them after leaving hospital.
  3. We are going to give to stroke survivors a place, where they can meet, talk, compare each other, rehabilitate and what is the most important, we are going to give them a work.

Photo credits: Facebook page.

Should obesity be treated as any other disease?

Should obesity be treated as any other disease?

“European Obesity Day celebrated every May, brings people together to raise awareness and increase knowledge about obesity and the many other diseases on which it impacts. The aim is to get coordinated action to improve the prevention and treatment of obesity and ultimately to improve the health and quality of life of those who are living with it. The causes of obesity and overweight are known whereby there is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. This is being fueled by an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt and an increase in physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanisation. Obesity is a disease often caused by factors largely beyond an individual’s control. It is a highly complex matter whereby changes in dietary and physical activity patterns are often the result of environmental and societal changes associated with development and lack of supportive policies in sectors such as health, agriculture, transport, urban planning, environment, food processing, distribution, marketing and education” said Dr Charmaine Gauci, Superintendent of Public Health, Ministry for Health, Malta.

In the meantime, SAFE is focused on what we could do as individuals to tackle this problem and reduce chances of getting a stroke. In Europe, 51.6% of adults are overweight. Being obese not only increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, but also makes you more likely to have a stroke, particularly if you are carrying extra weight around your stomach. Fortunately, this is yet another risk factor that can be potentially altered through a healthy diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.

The relationship between abdominal obesity and stroke is long established, particularly where other conditions are also present, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. But there are different opinions as to why the risk is increased in overweight people.

Some studies suggest body mass index (BMI) alone is not a good indicator for stroke risk. Instead, researchers claim excess stomach weight may be a stronger predictor. A waist measurement of over 40 inches in men and over 35 inches in women is classed as abdominal obesity.

If you wish to know more about obesity and stroke, and, more importantly, what you could do to decrease the risk of stroke, please visit our website for more information.

You are twice as likely to die from a stroke if you smoke: Do what you can to prevent it

You are twice as likely to die from a stroke if you smoke: Do what you can to prevent it

Each 31 May, the World No Tobacco Day is being celebrated around the globe by raising awareness about the harmful and deadly effects of smoking and the use of tobacco products. SAFE is trying to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking for another very important reason- Smoking is one of the modifiable stroke risk factors. Many studies suggest smoking almost doubles the risk of stroke and subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain (1). Long-term exposure to nicotine has many negative health effects. Some, such as a persistent cough, are noticeable. Whereas the hidden damage that happens within the brain is not often apparent until it’s too late. Research shows that the parts of a smoker’s brain that control everyday tasks, such as hand-to-eye coordination, are reduced in volume, which can impair its function (2).

According to the Statement given by EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, on a global level, the figures are staggering – there are more than 7 million tobacco-associated deaths around the world each year. This is one of the main reasons why the EU and its Member States are active supporters of a global health treaty – the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organisation.

“Tobacco consumption is the single largest avoidable health risk, and the most significant cause of premature death in the EU, responsible for nearly 700,000 deaths annually. This is not just a dry number. These are our family members, friends, colleagues. I am particularly concerned about young people taking up vaping and various new products like heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes, which are increasingly being marketed with misleading claims. 29% of young Europeans aged 15-24 are smoking. How many are using alternatives damaging their young lungs?” asked Mr Andriukaitis.

Up to 10% of stroke cases worldwide are caused by smoking

According to the World Health Organisation, smoking is thought to cause around 10% of cardiovascular disease worldwide. In 2008, the highest overall prevalence for smoking was estimated to be in the European Region, at nearly 29%. (3) Thankfully, in Europe, the death rate has fallen significantly over the last two years, but the number of people living with disabilities, as a result of stroke, continues to be a huge problem (4).

“The EU is working hard to protect citizens from the hazardous effects of tobacco use. One of our key milestone measures in the EU’s fight against illicit trade in tobacco products – the European systems of tobacco traceability and security features – became operational on 20 May. This means that consumers will soon see new traceability markings on the packs, together with the required security features. The traceability markings will enable national authorities to track and trace the movements of tobacco packs across the legal supply chain in the EU. In addition, security features will enable public authorities and citizens to determine if a tobacco product on the market is genuine or illicit” said Mr Andriukaitis in his official statement.

In conclusion, we all know smoking is bad for us. It’s been linked with all kinds of diseases, including stroke. But sometimes even the cold hard facts aren’t enough to make us want to kick the habit. If you’re considering cutting down or giving up, please visit SAFE’s website dedicated to education about stroke risk factors and check out five tips for quitting smoking.


  1. James F. Meschia, MD et al. (2014). Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Stroke. A statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. DOI: 10.1161/STR.0000000000000046. Stroke, 45: 3754-3832.
  1. Lim, T. S., Lee, J. S., Yoon, J. H., Moon, S. Y., Joo, I. S., Huh, K., & Hong, J. M. (2017). Cigarette smoking is an independent risk factor for post-stroke delirium. BMC neurology, 17(1), 56.
  2. Thun MJ, Apicella LF, Henley SJ. (2000). Smoking vs other risk factors as the cause of smoking-attributable deaths: confounding in the courtroom. JAMA, 284:706–712