Strokes are brain attacks and they occur when the blood supply to the brain becomes blocked or when there is internal bleeding in the brain. Around 85% of the strokes are caused due to blocked blood vessels.
A stroke is a medical emergency that needs immediate medical attention.
Fast Facts On Stroke:
During a stroke, the brain does not receive enough oxygen or nutrients, causing brain cells to die.
Strokes need to be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible to minimize brain damage and treatment depends on the type of stroke.
The most effective way to prevent strokes is through maintaining a healthy lifestyle and treating underlying conditions that could be risk factors.
As ischemic (block) and hemorrhagic (bleed) strokes have different causes, both require different forms of treatment. It is very important to quickly diagnose the type of stroke and decide upon the further course of treatment.
What Is Ischemic Stroke
Ischemic strokes are caused due to blocked or narrowed arteries, so treatment focuses on restoring an adequate flow of blood to the brain.
Treatment starts with drugs that break down clots and prevent others from forming. An injection of tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) can be given as it is very effective at dissolving clots but needs to be injected within 4.5 hours of stroke.
There are other procedures that can be carried out to decrease the risk of strokes or TIAs. A carotid endarterectomy involves a surgeon opening the carotid artery and removing any plaque that might be blocking it.
Hemorrhagic strokes are caused due to blood leaking into the brain, so treatment focuses on controlling the bleeding and reducing the pressure on the brain.
Treatment can begin with drugs given to reduce the pressure in the brain by controlling overall blood pressure, preventing seizures and sudden constrictions of blood vessels. If a patient is on blood thinning medications like aspirin, it should be stopped immediately.
Strokes are life-changing events that can affect a person both physically and emotionally. After a stroke, successful recovery will often involve specific therapies and support.
Speech therapy helps patients in producing and understanding speech. Techniques like practice, relaxation and communication style help a long way in recovery.
This can help patient to learn movement and co-ordination again and it is important to stay active. It may be difficult initially, but it plays an important role in complete recovery.
This is used to help patient in improving their ability to carry out routine daily activities, such as bathing, cooking, dressing, eating, reading, and writing.
Support From Friends And Family:
The people closest to a patient should offer practical support and comfort after a stroke. Letting friends and family know what can be done to help is very important.
Rehabilitation is an important and ongoing part of treatment. With the right assistance and the support of loved ones, rehabilitation restores normal quality of life, depending on the severity of the stroke.
The best way to prevent a stroke is to address the underlying causes. This is best achieved through lifestyle changes, including, eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, avoid smoking, alcohol, keeping blood pressure under control, managing diabetes, treating obstructive sleep apnea. Besides these lifestyle changes, seeing an expert doctor will reduce the risk of ischemic strokes.
What Is Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
TIAs are different from the types above because the flow of blood to the brain is only briefly interrupted. TIAs are like ischemic strokes and they are often due to blood clots or other clots. They should be regarded as medical emergencies, even if the symptoms are temporary. They serve as warning signs for future strokes and indicate that there is a partially blocked artery or clot source in the heart.
Studies show evidence that over a third of people who experience a TIA have a major stroke within a year if they have not received any treatment.
Between 10 and 15 percent of people will have a major stroke within 3 months of a TIA.
So please seek medical help as soon as possible to prevent major strokes.
What Is F.A.S.T
The acronym F.A.S.T. is a way to remember the signs of stroke and can help identify the onset of stroke.
If the person tries to smile, does one side of the face droop?
If the person tries to raise both their arms, does one arm drift downward?
If the person tries to repeat a simple phrase, is their speech slurred or strange?
It’s time to call emergency services.
Stroke is treatable. Recognize symptoms early and seek medical help as soon as possible. The faster a person with suspected stroke receives medical attention, the better their prognosis will be, and the less likely they will be to experience permanent damage or death.
Dr Bhuvaneswari, MBBS, MRCP (UK), CCT (UK) is a specialist in Neurology and Neurosurgery, Kauvery Hospital, Chennai