A brain checkup is indicated in the event of a family history and warning signs

Having a family history of neurological disease or severe signs that may indicate a stroke requires some sort of brain “check-up.” Photo: Bigstock

Check-ups without criteria are not recommended to anyone, because of the iatrogenic risks, when the search for health can also cause damage, with examinations and interventions either unnecessary or being able to do more harm than good.

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With the aging of the population, it is natural that we observe more and more neurological diseases, but when is it recommended to undergo a brain check-up? According to neurologist Vanessa Rizelio, clinical director of INC and coordinator of the stroke team, among those without symptoms related to the brain, those with a family history of neurological diseases are worth looking into. lingers.

“The risk of subsequent generations increases: stroke in family members under 60, Parkinson’s disease and dementias that appear before old age,” she says.

People with cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, smokers and sedentary people should also pay regular attention to neurological symptoms or signs, as neurologist Marcos Lange explains. “Mainly events that refer to slow and progressive damage, related to balance and the cognitive part,” he explains.

As he approaches 60 and even without a complaint, according to neurologist Renato Anghinah, it may indeed be time to start neurological / cognitive monitoring for the elderly. “Memory failures, loss of attention, sleep disturbances and anxiety can be warning signs of something neurological, even more so if that person has never had a diagnosed neurological disease,” he explains. -he, who is adviser of the postgraduate course in neurology (FMUSP). ) and spokesperson for the Swiss application Altoida, a tool that uses digital biomarkers to support the diagnosis of dementias, recently awarded by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

important signs

Important signs that require testing that may indicate brain disease include, according to Vanessa, headache, dizziness, seizures, reduced or loss in the ability to move part of the body, tremors, imbalance , difficulty walking, loss of sensation in part of the body, double vision or loss of part of vision, memory or attention problems, speech or comprehension problems.

“For diseases that show symptoms of acute and rapid onset, such as stroke, medical evaluation and treatment should be immediate; for slow, progressive or chronic diseases, the assessment can be done in a neurologist’s office, ”she says, noting that three headache episodes per month already require investigation and treatment and that, in the event of headache explosive, intense, brutal, the evaluation requires an emergency, because of the risk of being attributable to a stroke.

According to Lange, neurological assessment should also be done when there are cognitive difficulties, such as forgetting everyday situations, difficulty performing simple tasks, and even getting lost in familiar places. “Imbalances and dizziness must be evaluated rigorously so that it is possible to maintain a safe life, with less risk of falls,” he says.

Verified skills

During a consultation on neurological functions, abnormalities related to brain functions are checked, which involve cognitive, behavioral, motor functions, sensitivity and balance, language assessment, orientation, comprehension, followed specific tests of vision, hearing, movements of the face and mouth, limbs. motor skills, sensitivity, ability to walk and balance. Also from the clinical comorbidities reported by the patient, his age and his complaints, more specific and targeted evaluations can be carried out.

Early diagnosis can help prevent the progression of certain conditions, such as in the case of people with risk factors for stroke, explains Vanessa, in which the detection of certain brain lesions (silent brain infarctions, in which there is no (there were no symptoms, but there are lesions in the brain) can lead to the prevention of further injury. “Another disease that can be detected is brain aneurysm, and the right treatment can prevent a hemorrhagic stroke from occurring,” she says.

In cases of longer-lasting diseases, Lange says, the assessment allows for more assertive treatment planning, as in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, which is still incurable, in addition to promoting better monitoring of diseases such as dementia and more accurately identify the patient’s response to proposed treatment strategies.

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