Dr Rohit Gupta
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, it prevents the brain tissues from getting enough oxygen, therefore brain cells begin to die. A stroke is a medical emergency and a prompt treatment for the same is mandatory. Early action towards it can reduce brain damage and other complications. In India stroke is the second leading cause of death and it is the leading cause for disability.
Symptoms of a stroke
Symptoms start suddenly and usually without warning. Signs and symptoms of a stroke include the following:
Paralysis on one side of body
Numbness on one side of body
Difficulty in speaking or understanding
Difficulty in walking
Sudden severe headache
When to visit the doctor
Immediate medical attention should be sought if one has any of the signs of a stroke. Moreover, it is important to think ‘FAST’, here that means:
F – Face – ask the person to smile and see if one side of the face is drooping
A – arms – ask the person to lift their arms and see if they can do it properly
S – Speech – ask the person to repeat a sentence and see if their speech is slurred
T – Time – if any of the signs are noticed, it is important to call for emergency medical help
Causes of a stroke
Causes of a stroke maybe either a blocked artery known as ischemic stroke or leaking or bursting of a blood vessel which is hemorrhagic stroke. There are some patients who experience only a temporary disruption of blood flow, and it does not have any lasting symptoms.
Causes related to ischemic stroke – this is the most common type of stroke and occurs when the brains blood vessels become narrow or get blocked due to reduced blood flow.
The following factors may increase a person’s risk towards developing a stroke:
However, we must keep in mind that a stroke can be prevented by making necessary lifestyle changes. This includes consuming a healthy diet, stop smoking, managing diabetes, limiting consumption of alcohol, and exercising regularly.
Way forward – the need to raise awareness
In treatment of stroke a major change that has come in is the use of the injection called thrombolysis, this dissolves the clot that occurs in the brain. It should be taken within the first 4.5 hours of a person getting a stroke. Therefore, if we act fast one can avoid complications after a stroke and things can be managed within the first few hours. There is however a lack of awareness around stroke in India. People are aware of heart attack but not about a stroke. Hence, there is need for more awareness around the same. In our brain 2 million neurons get damaged every minute after a stroke, therefore one needs to act fast. The number of neurons that get damaged during a stroke is equivalent to the number that gets destroyed in 3.6 years. Therefore, during a stroke time lost is brain lost. Every minute and second counts.
Dr Rohit Gupta is Director, Neurology at Fortis Hospital, Faridabad