Patient’s story: I was lucky, the help came quickly

Karolína Vařáková (28 years old) is a young woman who, as a student at the age of 21, suffered a stroke. She survived the stroke and has no sequelae, although she still has to take medication. After recovery, she participated as a volunteer in the preventive educational program of the Cerebrovascular Research Team of the International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne’s University Hospital Brno called HOBIT (Hour of Biology for Life).

“One morning I woke up at home in Brno, got out of bed and it darkened before my eyes. This can happen to anyone sometimes. But it didn’t stop, on the contrary, it got worse and worse. I called my parents in Zlín and during the phone call I suddenly stopped feeling a corner, I started to talk worse… ”Karolína Vařáková describes emotionally even now, years later. Meanwhile, the parents called an ambulance. “The operators tried to call me, I talked for a while, I saw that the cell phone was ringing, but I felt like a rag doll, I couldn’t move.” When Karolína fully awoke from her unconsciousness, she felt that nothing made sense, and that it would be best to give up, because in this world, everything was over for her. “Fortunately, it didn’t take long and I regained my mind. I realized that I had to fight and that I had someone to live for. But it was hard, I couldn’t move, I was having trouble breathing and I was sick, “adds Karolína.

The doctors arrived at the girl within fifteen minutes and brought her straight to the stroke unit to the St. Anne’s University Hospital Brno. There on CT, they found that it had a centimeter clot in the basilar artery, which is the most important artery that supplies blood to the brain. “In the hall, a catheter with a special basket was inserted into my head through the groin, which caught the clot and pulled it out. After waking up, I suddenly realized that I could feel everything again. It was an incredible feeling, “says Karolína Vařáková.

The whole “action” from the occurrence of stroke to the procedure lasted 30 minutes. Time played a huge role, because everything went quickly and stroke did not have time to “do” great damage. The patient’s age also played a role. “The number of young patients with stroke is increasing worldwide, which is partly related to the deteriorating lifestyle. At our clinic, we usually have patients under the age of 50. Hundreds of children with stroke are being treated in the Czech Republic, “says the head of the FNUSA-ICRC Cerebrovascular Research Team and the neurologist of the 1st Department of Neurology, FNUSA and LF MU, prof. MUDr. Robert Mikulík, Ph.D.

Since then, Karolína Vařáková has been cooperating with his team in the preventive educational program HOBIT, which uses a web platform to educate schoolchildren on how to react correctly in the event of a stroke. Karolína helps this effort a lot, meets students, tells her story, answers questions. “While we are educating the general public about stroke, sharing a personal story has proven to be the strongest way to highlight the severity of the disease. Thanks to the fact that the story is passed on to a young person, people realize that even the younger generation does not avoid the disease, and it is necessary to take care of their health continuously throughout their lives. In addition, Karolína’s story confirms what we are trying to pass on to people – that is, to save lives it is necessary to act quickly and call 155. Thanks to the timely help of the environment, Karolína was not only saved, but allowed to return to normal life, “says prof. Robert Mikulík.

114 primary schools and multi-year grammar schools in the Czech Republic are now involved in the HOBIT program. Thanks to him, more than 10,000 children are already aware of how to save lives in the event of a stroke or heart attack. Schools can join at any time, for free and without administrative burden. Details can be found on the website www.projekthobit.cz.