Stroke is an emergency condition that arises due to an inadequate blood flow to the brain. The interrupted or reduced blood supply, which may be due to clots or blockage of blood vessels, deprives the brain cells of oxygen and nutrients, leading to the death of brain cells that begins within seconds.

Statistics reveal that approximately 6.9 million people suffered an ischemic stroke and 3.4 million people suffered from hemorrhagic stroke in 2013, making it the second leading cause of death after coronary artery disease.

The Two Main kinds of Stroke are as follows:

  • Ischemic stroke results due to the formation of a clot that prevents the flow of blood to the brain.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke occurs due to rupturing of a weak vessel, which causes bleeding, leading to pressure on the surrounding brain tissue.

There is a third, kind of stroke known as the Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or mini stroke, which generally resolves within 24 hours without any medical treatment.

The biggest risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure which accounts for nearly 30- 50% of the risk. Other factors include

  • Obesity.
  • High Body Mass Index.
  • Unhealthy Diet.
  • Lack of Exercise.
  • Consumption of Alcohol and Red Meat.
  • Smoking.
  • High Cholesterol Levels.

High blood cholesterol forms a solid plaque within the blood vessel which blocks off or narrows blood supply. This is called as atherosclerosis and is the second leading cause for stroke.

Following a stroke, one can suffer from lethal but curable infections like pneumonia or may show permanent symptoms such as loss of bladder control. Symptoms depend on the part of the brain affected as the functions carried out by that portion of the brain are hampered.

The term “FAST” should be kept in mind when handling patients with the potential risk of stroke. FAST” stands for the following:

  • Face drooping- on one side
  • Arm drifting- one arm drifts downwards when both arms are extended in front of the patient
  • Speech difficulty- slow or slurred speech
  • Time to call emergency

Diagnosis is performed using Computerized Tomography (CT) scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan. Physical examination and Electrocardiograph (ECG) are performed to rule out other causes. An diagnosis within 3 hours of occurrence increases the chances of the patient being saved. Delay in diagnosis leads to larger areas of the brain being affected with greater chances of lasting disability to organs.

Immediate medical care is important to minimize permanent damage. Treatment differs based on the type of strokes.

  • Ischemic stroke requires breaking down of the clot and restoring blood flow to brain tissue. Aspirin injection might be given as along with tissue plasminogen factor. Alternatively, angioplasty may be performed where a stent is inserted at the site of blockage and the clot is removed.
  • Since hemorrhagic stroke occurs due to heavy bleeding, the blood flow needs to be controlled, to reduce the pressure. Surgery can be performed to repair ruptured blood vessels. In addition, clamping of blood vessels might also be done to stop the excessive blood flow.

Some unconventional therapies that can help people recover post stroke include video games and virtual reality, which are now being used at hospitals and clinics. Moreover, these off-the-shelves exercises are convenient , affordable and fun.

The prevention strategies that are currently practiced are insufficient given the high number of people suffering from the disease worldwide. Including appropriate education regarding a healthy lifestyle right from childhood is essential.

High levels of physical activity and exercise reduce stroke risk by 26%. Indulge in sports like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, aerobics, tennis etc at least 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes to an hour to get your dose of exercise.

  • Eating large amount of greens helps reduce cholesterol build up that can cause stroke. Similarly, cutting down on smoking, alcohol, red meat and deep fried foods helps in keeping cholesterol levels under check.
  • Check into yoga or meditation under a qualified person to keep stress levels under control.

Stroke can cause significant emotional and physical trauma. Proper care and neuro-rehabilitation are essential to bring back the quality of life. If you stay away from family, then opting for professional caregivers can help you get back on your feet. With guidance from experts at Care24, you can ensure that there is no stone being left unturned in making you independent again.