What is Stroke | Detailed information on Stroke
A stroke occurs when an artery to the brain becomes blocked or ruptured, which then leads to the death of a certain area of brain tissue and its blood supply causing certain symptoms. Stroke can be classified into two types. The first type is referred to as Ischemia or ischaemia, which is the result of blockage of an artery and the second type is referred to as hemorrhagic, which is caused due to rupture of an artery. The signs and symptoms can occur suddenly which include muscle weakness, paralysis, severe headaches, loss of balance and co-ordination and problem with vision. Recovery of the patient depends on the amount and the location of damage, person’s age and any other disorders that are already present in the body. Improvement from stroke symptoms commonly continues for six months after a stroke. The condition in adults, who have had an ischemic stroke, becomes permanent if it is not treated for at least 12 months. But children continue to improve gradually month by month. For people who already have other serious disorders (such as dementia), recovery is slower and in some cases, they don’t show any improvement at all. Also, people who have had a stroke, the quality of life is predicted to remain poor despite treatment. For such people, care focuses on the control of pain, comfort measures, and provision of fluids and nourishment. You can lower your odds of having a stroke by staying active and working out every day. Take a brisk walk of 30 minutes or do muscle strengthening exercises like push-ups.
Cause and Symptoms
Some major reasons highlighting the causes of stroke are as follows:
High blood pressure: Also known as hypertension, it’s one of the major factors of strokes. If your blood pressure is typically 140/90 or higher than this figure, you should consult your doctor.
Tobacco: Smoking or chewing tobacco raises the chances of a stroke. Nicotine makes your blood pressure shoot up and smoking tobacco causes fat build up in your neck artery. This thickens your blood, making it more likely to clot.
Heart diseases: This condition includes a defective valve as well as irregular heartbeat, which are two of the major causes of strokes among elderly people. You may also have clogged arteries from fatty deposits, which cause stroke.
Diabetes: People who have high blood pressure are more likely to be obese. Obesity as well as diabetes both raises the chances of a stroke occurrence. Diabetes damages blood vessels and thus, may cause stroke. It should be noted that if you have a stroke with high blood sugar levels, the damage to your brain is also higher.
Medications: Blood thinners that are used to prevent blood clots can sometimes make a stroke occurrence more likely through bleeding. Even low dosages of estrogens in birth control pills may make your odds go up.
Age factor: Though anyone could have a stroke but your chances go up as you get older. They double every decade after the age of 55.
Family history: Stroke can run in families. You and your relatives may share a tendency to get high blood pressure or diabetes. Some strokes can result from a genetic disorder that blocks blood flow to the brain.
The F-A-S-T rule
This rule implies:
F (face): Uneven smile, facial droopiness, numbness, vision disturbance
A (arm & leg): Weakness, numbness, difficulty walking
S (speech): Slurred, inappropriate words
T (time): Realize that time is critical. If you notice any of the above symptoms, immediately rush to the hospital.
Also, it has been found that in India following diseases increases the risk of stroke by the corresponding percentage:
Obesity up to 49 per cent
Smoking up to 46 per cent (in men)
Hypertension up to 40 per cent
High cholesterol up to 32 per cent
Alcohol consumption up to 22 per cent
Heart diseases up to 12 per cent
Diabetes up to 12 per cent
Family history up to 8 per cent
The rapid loss of brain functioning caused due to interrupted blood supply causes a stroke. Some risk factors include diabetes and hypertension, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol level, and heart diseases. Warning signs and symptoms of brain stroke include:
Face drooping: If the face of the patient droops to one side, it is a symptom of stroke. A patient may also experience numbness on one side of the face. This requires immediate medical assistance.
Weakness in the arm: A stroke patient will experience numbness or weakness in one or both of his arms. Help the patient to raise his hand. If he fails to do so, rush him to the hospital.
Difficulty in speaking: When a stroke hits a person, he might also experience slurred speech.
Loss of balance: A stroke patient finds it difficult to balance his body. He may face difficulty in moving and lacks coordination.
A throbbing headache: A throbbing headache may also be a symptom of stroke. One can suffer a throbbing headache suddenly without a reason. This occurs mainly in case of hemorrhagic stroke.
Some other symptoms include:
Giddiness / imbalance
Loss of short-term memory
Episodes of black-out or visual impairment, particularly in one eye
Abrupt loss of consciousness
Involuntary eye movements
Loss of sensation in one part of the body
If you encounter someone who may be having these symptoms, don’t delay in seeking medical assistance. This may help save a life or even reduce the chances of a long-term disability.
Prevention & Myth
By following these preventive measures, you can definitely reduce the chances of getting affected by stroke.
Keep a check on your blood pressure:
The major factor responsible for stroke is high blood pressure. Monitoring blood pressure and, if it is elevated, treating it timely may reduce the chances of stroke. Reducing the intake of high-cholesterol and high salted foods can help in controlling your blood pressure level.
Exercising regularly helps in maintaining ideal body weight and maintaining blood pressure.
Smoking accelerates clot formation in the body. It thickens your blood and increases the chances of plaque buildup in the arteries. Adapt healthy lifestyle by eating a healthy diet.
Lose weight if you are obese
Obesity increases the complications of stroke as it is a great risk factor for high blood pressure and diabetes. Maintain your ideal Body Mass Index (BMI).
Keep a check on diabetes
This is another reason that causes a stroke. If you have been suffering from diabetes, you are more likely to get impacted by stroke. Reduce or limit your sugar intake and regularly monitor your blood level.
Myth: Strokes mainly affect elderly people.
Fact: As we get older, we become more prone to health conditions but that doesn’t mean stroke cannot affect young individuals. There is an increasing number of strokes in younger people now. Almost 15 per cent strokes are hitting people in their 30s and 40s. Certain risk factors such as obesity and high blood pressure make younger age group prone to stroke.
Myth: Strokes are rare.
Fact: The statistics of stroke show that they are quite common. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in India. The overall incidence of stroke in Asia is between 116 and 483/100,000 per year.
Myth: Stroke occurs in the heart.
Fact: Strokes occur when blood supply to the brain is interrupted.
Myth: It’s not stroke if you are not in pain.
Fact: People affected by stroke don’t feel any pain. As the symptoms include dizziness and loss of balance, difficulty speaking, numbness in extremities and trouble understanding, these signs don’t cause any pain.
Myth: Recovery only happens in the first few months after a stroke hits.
Fact: Although the time shortly after a stroke is crucial in recovery, most stroke survivors recover gradually for the rest of their lives. Providing physical and speech therapy for years can yield positive results.
Myth: Strokes don’t run in the family.
Fact: If you have a family history of stroke, the risk of having stroke increases.
Myth: Small strokes don’t need medical attention.
Fact: Stroke, whether minor or major, requires immediate medical attention. This attention can save a person’s life and helps in faster recovery.