What is Stroke?
Stroke is a Neurological condition where a patient develops a focal deficit like weakness of one half of the body, slurred speech or sudden loss of consciousness.
There are two forms of stroke:
- Ischemic Stroke – Blockage or narrowing of blood vessel supplying blood to the brain, leading to severely reduced blood flow (ischemia)
- Hemorrhagic Stroke – Bleeding around or into the brain. Brain cells die when they no longer receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood or when there is a sudden bleeding into or around the brain.
What are the symptoms of a Stroke?
- SUDDEN weakness or numbness of arm, leg or face – specially on one side of the body.
- SUDDEN confusion, trouble understanding or speaking.
- SUDDEN trouble seeing in both or one eyes.
- SUDDEN dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination.
- SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause.
Why can’t some victims identify Stroke symptoms?
Stroke damages the brain, hence, person may not be able to recognize one’s own problems. To a lay-man or bystander, the stroke patient may seem unaware or confused as stroke may present as disorientation, loss of comprehension and consciousness.
How to identify a patient of Stroke?
The FAST acronym is useful to identify Stroke:
- Face Drooping — Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
- Arm Weakness — Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech Difficulty — Is speech slurred?
- Time to call Apollo Emergency — If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call Apollo Emergency and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you will know when the first symptoms appeared.
What should a layperson or a bystander do during a Stroke?
Stroke is a medical emergency. During a Stroke, a layperson should know the signs and act on time. Initiating stroke treatment immediately may save someone’s life and enhance his/her chances for successful rehabilitation as well as recovery.
What are the risk factors for Stroke?
Common risk factors include high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, or a family history of stroke, and elderly age i.e. above 65 years of age.
Is there any treatment for Stroke?
YES. There are three treatment stages for stroke:
- Therapy immediately after the stroke
- Post-stroke rehabilitation
Acute stroke therapy includes use of thrombolytic drug which can be intra venous in the first 3 to 4 and half hours after onset of symptoms. This acts by dissolving the blood clot (thrombus) causing the blockage. This is called thrombolytic therapy. Mechanical thrombectomy to remove the clot can be done up to 6 to 24 hours using catheter devices.
Therapies to thwart or prevent first or recurrent stroke are based on treating a person’s underlying risk factors for stroke, like atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Post-stroke rehabilitation helps individuals overcome disabilities that result from stroke damage by way of physiotherapy, which is an integral part of management of stroke .
What is the prognosis of Stroke?
Ischemic Stroke can be completely reversed if managed within four and half hours of development of symptoms. Hemiplegia, complete paralysis on one side of body, is a common disability resulting from stroke. Other disabilities include:
- Hemiparesis, weakness of the entire one side of our body
- Problems with thinking
Good physiotherapy and rehabilitation improves the outcome in most patients.
What can be done to reduce risk of Stroke?
To reduce your risk of stroke, monitor blood pressure, track your cholesterol level, stop smoking, exercise regularly, and consult your doctor regularly and promptly for any health concern . Annual health checks go a long way in early detection and reversal of risk factors.