World Stroke Day, observed on Oct 29th, will endeavour to create awareness on strokes and related issues
HYDERABAD: October 29th is observed as World Stroke Day. Events are held on that day to raise awareness on the prevention and treatment of strokes. Efforts are also made to underscore the serious nature and high rates of stroke, treatment of the condition, and to ensure better care and support for survivors.
The pandemic, amongst many other diseases, led to an increase in cases related to stroke. Stroke has become common ever since. Stroke takes place when blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off, resulting in oxygen starvation, and consequent brain damage. Without blood flow, brain cells can be damaged or could even die. It is most frequently caused by a clot in an artery supplying blood to the brain, a situation known as ischemia. It can also be caused by hemorrhage when a burst vessel causes blood leak in the brain.
The impact of stroke can be both short-term and long-term, depending on which part of the brain is affected and how quickly it is treated. Stroke survivors can experience a wide range of disabilities, including difficulty with mobility, speech, thinking and feeling. Stroke can cause permanent damage, including partial paralysis and impairment in speech, comprehension and memory.
“Covid-19 infection increases an individual’s risk of stroke. This is the case even for younger people and those with no other stroke-related risk factors. The medical fraternity and frontline warriors around the world have worked hard to put in place stroke treatment procedures that reduce the risk of infection in hospitals. It is more important than ever that we know the signs of stroke and seek emergency medical treatment,” says Dr. Kamlesh M Chawda, Senior Neurologist, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad.
We can recognize the onset of a stroke if we keep an eye out for warning signals like sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, and sudden confusion, or trouble in speaking, understanding. There could also be sudden sight-related issues, in one or both eyes, as well as trouble in walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination. Age makes us more susceptible to strokes, as does having a mother, father, or other close relative who has had a stroke.
But there are many stroke-related risk factors that one can control. To prevent a stroke one should maintain normal BP, and lose excess weight. Exercise regularly, quit smoking, consume alcohol in moderate levels, and treat diabetes and atrial fibrillation. "If you know that a particular risk factor is sabotaging your health and predisposing you to a higher risk of stroke, you can take steps to alleviate the effects of that risk," adds Dr. Kamlesh.
Strokes are more likely to be fatal, and they strike earlier in men than in women. The consequences of a stroke can be devastating. Not only can a stroke kill you, but non-fatal strokes can leave you debilitated, paralyzed or unable to communicate. Early treatment with medications like tPA (clot) can minimise the brain damage. Other treatments focus on limiting complications and preventing additional strokes.
The onset of stroke is a dramatic and discouraging event, both for the person suffering the stroke and the family. A person may go from compete independence to complete dependence in a matter of minutes.
The author is Senior Neurologist, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad