Stroke has emerged to become a major global public health concern. As per Global Burden of Diseases Study, Stroke has emerged as 2nd leading cause of death across the globe! In India,it has become a point of concern in last decade; the incidence of Stroke has doubled as compared to its incidence in 1970-80s. Acute Ischemic Stroke also called as ‘Brain Attack’ is a medical emergency and should be treated with highest priority to prevent disability and death.
Brain Attack occurs due to sudden blockage of the blood vessels which supply oxygenated blood to the brain. If this is not treated in a timely manner, it may cause permanent damage to the brain cells, leading to disability or even death, depending upon the area and sizeof the brain affected. Early recognition of signs and symptoms of acute Stroke is of paramount importance, as management of acute Ischemic Stroke is a race against time. Here ‘time is brain’, every minute matters; delay of 1min causes death of 1.9 million neurons! Longer the time to initiate treatment, more severe the damage to brain cells.
Let’s understand the weather-related Stroke incidences better; recent studies have found an association between winter season and increased rates of Stroke. In cold weather blood vessels constrict, which thereby increases the risk of Stroke. Moreover, blood tends to thicker and stickier during cold weather, which makes it easier to clot. Variation of temperature by more than 10 degrees has shown increase in Stroke risk by 12 to 18%. On the other hand,hot and humid atmosphere also causes dehydration and increases the risk of Stroke. So, it is important for one to keep a close eye on family and friends who are at risk of Stroke, especially when temperature variations are seen.
Also read: Home care & rehab for Stroke patients
RECOGNISE SYMPTOMS OF STROKE: This is the most crucial step; these can be recognised by patient himself/ herself or by the family or friends. This recognition can be achieved by using a very well accepted mnemonic FAST, it stands for:
F – Face drooping: Face will appear unequal, or deviation of face to one side is visible. This appears more when person tries to smile
A – Arm weakness: When patients lifts both arms, the affected arm will drift down
S – Speech difficulty: Difficulty in speech or being unable to articulate words or slurring
T – Time: Time to call for medical help
Other symptoms Stroke which one should be aware about are:
– Sudden numbness or loss of sensation in the limbs, or one side of the body
– Sudden onset of confusion or disorientation or irrelevant talk
– Sudden loss of vision, in one or both sides
– Sudden onset of Vertigo or loss of balance while walking
SEEKING IMMEDIATE MEDICAL AID: Once Stroke has been recognised, immediate medical attention must be sought. Patient must be urgently taken to the Emergency Department of Stroke-ready hospital. Obstruction caused due to blood clots must be removed as early as possible. Ideally, this obstruction must be removed within 3hrs of onset of symptoms. In the Emergency Dept., clot bursting injection is administered; the injection can be given upto 4.5 hours in certain cases. So arriving at the Emergency Dept. of a Stroke-ready hospital within 3hrs of onset of Stroke symptoms, is imperative!
– Quit smoking – smoking kills, it is lethal
– Consume healthy diet and avoid junk food, red meat & salty diet
– Increase portion of fruits & vegetables
– Maintain appropriate body weight, and BMI should be less than 25
– Do regular physical activities ie. 150 mins/week
– Control blood cholesterol level
– Maintain Blood Pressure within normal range of 120/80 mmHg
– Diabetes must be controlled
(Disclaimer: The writer is Dr Sandeep Gore, HOD-Emergency Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Mulund. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)