Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. According to the WHO, about 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke each year. About 5 million succumb to it while another 5 million are left disabled. A stroke also referred to as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or a brain attack, can be treated or prevented in some cases. It can also be treated if caught early, thus avoiding permanent disability or death.
Several factors increase the risk of developing a stroke. These include -
- Alcohol consumption
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Family history of stroke
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Obesity and lack of physical activity
- Obstructive sleep apnoea
The risk of developing a stroke can also increase with age. Men are at a higher risk for stroke than women, and women on specific hormone therapies could also be at a higher risk. Recently, researchers believe that a COVID-19 infection could potentially increase the risk of developing a stroke. BLK-MAX Hospital Delhi is one of the leading stroke treatment centers in the country.
What is a brain stroke?
A stroke is a condition in which the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, causing damage to the brain tissue. As a result, it involves loss of neurological function. Brain stroke is broadly categorized into Ischemic stroke and Hemorrhagic stroke, depending on the cause of brain stroke.
An Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked, causing loss of normal blood flow. In this case, the blood vessels become narrow or blocked due to plaque build-up. Alternatively, blood clots could cause the arteries to be blocked, leading to a stroke.
A Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing a stroke.
Sometimes, a person may experience a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or a mini-stroke. Mini-stroke symptoms are similar to those of a full-blown stroke but are temporary.
It is important to seek immediate medical attention at BLK-MAX Hospital if you think you may have suffered a TIA or a stroke. The damage done by stroke can be minimized, and the survival chances increased by getting timely help.
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Brain Stroke warning signs and symptoms
Brain stroke symptoms can come on very quickly and suddenly. Awareness of the warning signs could be the key to getting immediate medical attention and preventing death or disability.
Stroke warning signs could include –
- A sudden onset numbness or weakness affecting the face, arms, or legs that usually affects one side of the body
- A confused state of mind - inability to communicate
- Difficulty understanding speech or speaking
- Blurry vision
- Loss of balance, dizziness, inability to walk
- Severe headache for no apparent reason
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sudden vertigo
Posterior circulation strokes or strokes in the back of the brain can cause similar symptoms.
When assessing a stroke, BE FAST
A brain stroke can come on quite suddenly, and getting immediate help is essential. This means that stroke awareness is the key to survival and minimizing damage. The acronym BE FAST is an important guideline for assessing brain stroke symptoms and getting medical attention.
- B stands for balance – Does the person have a sudden loss of balance? Is there a loss of coordination?
- E stands for eyes – Does the person have a partial or complete vision loss in one or both eyes? Is the vision blurry or impaired?
- F stands for face – Is the face drooping, or is there numbness in the face or either side?
- Stands for arms – Is there weakness or numbness of the arms or legs on one side of the body?
- S stands for speech – Is the person coherent and able to understand what is spoken? Is the speech slurred or difficult to understand?
- T stands for time – If anyone around you experiences any of these symptoms, it may be time to get medical help immediately.
What is a silent stroke?
Sometimes, a person may have a stroke without any of its attending visible symptoms. Alternatively, they may have mild, transient symptoms that they fail to remember or recognize. These are caused by small brain bleeds and cause salient symptoms. This causes a delay in seeking medical attention. However, silent strokes could also cause permanent brain damage. This makes it necessary to get medical attention if you are experiencing memory problems or difficulty in gain, movement, and coordination. An experienced neurologist at BLK-MAX Hospital will recognize mini-stroke symptoms on examination.
Preventing a brain stroke
The vast majority of strokes can be avoided. The risk of developing a brain stroke increases if you suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, vascular diseases, or atrial fibrillation. Managing these diseases through medication and lifestyle changes helps reduce the risk of developing a stroke. Here's what you can do –
- Monitor blood pressure and stay on medication
- Quit smoking
- Restrict alcohol intake
- Keep control of diabetes with medicines and lifestyle changes
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q.1 Can you survive a brain stroke?
Recognizing the warning signs of a brain stroke and getting immediate medical attention is key to minimizing the damage from brain stroke and the risk of death. The neurologists at BLK-MAX Hospital are experts at treating patients who have suffered a stroke.
Q.2 What are the five warning signs of a stroke?
While different patients could experience strokes differently, the following warning signs could indicate a stroke –
- Severe, sudden onset headache
- Weakness or numbness in the face, arms, or legs
- Confusion, difficulty in communication
- Vision loss, blurred vision, double vision
- Loss of coordination, balance, difficulty walking
Q.3 Can brain stroke be treated?
Brain stroke is treated with anticoagulants, clot busters, statins, and ACE inhibitors. In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary. Physical therapy and rehabilitation may also be needed as part of the recovery from a stroke.