What is a stroke?
Stroke can be best described as a brain attack. The brain needs a steady supply of oxygen-rich blood to function properly and this is supplied through an intricate network of blood vessels throughout the brain. In case this supply is disrupted for any reason, brain tissues don’t get enough blood or oxygen, and in the process start dying out. The damage may be temporary or permanent, causing death, disability or loss of one or more brain functions. The episode and the resulting condition are both called a stroke.
This sequence of events is exactly what happens in a heart attack too.
Types of stroke
There are 3 major types of stroke.
- Ischemic stroke: Here the blood supply is restricted because a blood clot or pieces of plaque, caused by atherosclerosis, becomes unstable and leads to formation of a clot (thrombus) which is blocking the blood vessel.
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA): TIA is similar to an ischemic attack but the problem is temporary and normal blood flow is restored within 24 hours, on its own. But this is a warning sign that a repeat stroke may occur.
- Hemorrhagic stroke: This occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and leaks blood (hemorrhage). The leaking blood increases pressure inside the cranial cavity and damages the brain or parts of it.
Both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes are divided into sub-categories depending on the mode of onset and location.
Also Read: Types of Strokes
Stroke Signs and Symptoms
- Trouble speaking or understanding speech, slurring speech
- Vision problems such as trouble seeing in one or both eyes (darkened, blurred or double vision),
- Numbness or weakness in the arm, face, and leg on one side of the body
- Confusion, dizziness
- Severe or sudden headache
- Fainting briefly
- Trouble walking and loss of balance or coordination
FAST recognition and do the following:
- Tell the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- Tell the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward / sags? Or is one arm unable to rise?
- Tell the person to say a simple sentence. Is his or her speech slurred or sounding strange?
- Every second counts, seek medical care immediately without any delay.
Stroke is a medical emergency, seek immediate care. The clock starts ticking with the onset of stroke.
So we say “Time is brain (cells)! Time is heart (muscle)!”
Also Read: Be ‘FAST’ On Managing Stroke
Prevention of stroke
- Quit smoking: Nicotine has a deadly effect on blood flow. For one, it acts as a catalyst for clot formation. Secondly, it thickens the blood and increases plaque build-up in the arteries leading to atherosclerosis, which is a huge risk for stroke.
- Reduce alcohol consumption: Interestingly, having one drink a day may reduce the risk of a stroke. But more than 1 drink a day increases the risk of a stroke due to several reasons.
- Reduce and maintain weight: A healthy body mass index reduces the risk for various ailments such as hypertension, diabetes and stroke. Eat in moderation and exercise regularly in order to maintain weight. Include cardio exercises like running, jogging, swimming, callisthenics, sports, intense cleaning, intense gardening, etc as these help burn fat faster.
Also Read: Planning A South Indian Diabetic Friendly Diet
- Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet that is low on salt, cholesterol, trans-fats, and saturated fats, and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables helps prevent many ailments including stroke. Include a salad in every meal or at-least once a day. Include produce that are rich in potassium such as banana, avocado, dates, beetroot and cantaloupe (musk melon).
- Be active physically: This helps you maintain your weight, reduce BP and reduce cholesterol levels. It also helps burn food into energy better which regulates blood sugar levels. This in turn helps regulate insulin production in the body and prevent the onset of type-2 diabetes.
- Health checkups: Get regular health checkups that record your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. High blood sugar, cholesterol and high blood pressure are all “risk factors’ for a stroke.
- Discuss your medication: Some medicines may increase the risk of stroke, so mention the medicines you take every time you meet a doctor
- Address health issues quickly: If you suffer from any of these: atrial fibrillation, sickle-cell disease, anemia, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, hypertension etc, it’s advisable to go in for quick and definitive solutions.
- Maintain your brain health: Reduce stress through yoga and meditation. Keep your brain active in old age by solving puzzles, staying connected with friends and family, taking up a new hobby etc. These reduce the risk of stroke and prevent the onset of dementia of the commonest types of which is Alzheimer’s disease.
- Avoid HRT: Post-menopausal women should avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy and choose other means to maintain their overall health.
Treatment options for stroke vary depending on the type of stroke and include medications or interventional procedures. Procedures include mechanical thrombectomy, stents, surgery, coiling and clamping. Medications include anti-platelets and anti-coagulants, clot-buster drugs like Tissue Activator (tPA), statins that lower blood cholesterol and drugs that lower blood pressure.
Stroke Recovery Treatment
Your progress will be closely monitored and accordingly rehabilitation therapies will be recommended. This includes physical therapy, speech therapy, cognitive therapy and relearning sensory skills.
Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Karaikudi, Hosur and Salem, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.
Chennai – 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Karaikudi – 04565 244555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777