Dr Suresh Kumar, Neurologist, Fortis Malar Hospital :
World over, more than 2 crore people have suffered from stroke. Of these, about 50 lakh patients have died. In India, each year, about 15 lakh new patients are added to the list of those suffering from stroke. Nowadays, younger age group are also affected by stoke.
What is a stroke?
When the blood vessel in the brain gets blocked, it results in the stoppage of blood flow to the brain, clots, haemorrhage or rupturing of the blood vessel. This prevents the supply of the required blood and oxygen to the brain, causing the brain to lose its capabilities. This condition is called a stroke.
What are the symptoms of stroke?
Remember the acronym BE FAST.
(B – Balance) Unsteady gait
(E – Eyes) – Blurred vision in one or both the eyes
(F – Fast) – Distortion of facial muscles, with noticeable tightening on one side.
(A – Arm) – Losing strength in the arms
(S – Speech) – Slurry and unclear speech
(T – Time is Brain) – If you notice the above symptoms, rush the patient to the doctor. Permanent damage to the brain can be prevented if treatment begins within three hours. Remember to take the patient to a hospital that has the required medical facilities.
Why does stroke occur?
· Excessive weight
· Sedentary lifestyle plus prolonged hours of sitting
· High blood pressure
· Increased fat content in the body
· Increased blood sugar
· Snoring and sleep apnea
· Heart diseases
How is stroke confirmed? Are there special tests for this?
CT Scans, MRI Scans and angiogram tests can confirm if the patient has suffered from blood haemorrhage, blocks in the blood vessel, ruptured blood vessel or if there is a clot.
Treatment: Clot burst therapy, anti-platelet, anti-edema measures. If it is haemorrhagic stroke, then surgery is required.
What are the preventive measures available against stroke?
Keep the body weight under control. Exercise regularly. Keep the blood pressure normal. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Check your blood sugar levels regularly. Keep cholesterol under control.
Avoid situations that trigger stress. Else, find ways to deal with stress. Eat well-balanced and nutritious food. These would reduce chances of stroke by about 80 percent.
What first aid care should be given to a stroke patient?
Lay the stroke patient on his/her side. Making the patient lay down regulates the flow of blood. Laying the person on his side reduces the chances of seizure attack. Don’t make the patient sit. Until medical assistance arrives, don’t let the stroke patient get up and walk by himself because he could lose balance, fall and hurt himself badly. Don’t give food or water to a stroke patient. This could cause breathing difficulties and end up turning fatal. Please ensure that the patient is given proper medical treatment within three hours of stroke symptoms appear.