Lamya Ibrahim Ibrahim
Columnist, The Logical Indian
Image Source: spotlifeasia
‘Heart Attacks’ may be common parlance now, but have you ever heard of a ‘Brain Attack’?
A Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA) or, more commonly, stroke is a condition where a part or the entire blood supply to the brain is compromised. There are two ways how this may happen – a hemorrhagic stroke because of bleeding into the brain, or an ischemic stroke, where the circulation is cut off due to blockage in an artery leading to the brain. Risk factors for getting a stroke include non-modifiable ones such as age, sex (females more than males), race, and genetics, as well as lifestyle contributors such as alcohol intake, smoking, decreased physical activity and concurrent illnesses such as Diabetes and Hypertension. Assessing your current risk and getting regular check-up done is the first step in stroke prevention.
Worldwide, 15 million people suffer a stroke each year; one-third die and one-third are left permanently disabled. Within 5 years of a stroke, over half of patients aged ≥ 45 years will die. Stroke incidence has declined by over 40% in the past four decades in high-income countries, but over the same period, it has doubled in low- and middle-income countries. In India, the incidence varies across the country, but the rates have increased enough for it to be nicknamed a ‘silent epidemic.’
As a stroke involves blood vessels and the brain, it requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Since the brain is very susceptible to low oxygen levels, the more the delay in treatment, the more irreversible and extensive the damage becomes. A lot of peripheral centers may lack the appropriate facilities, so it is essential that you know what to do in case you, or anyone among your friends of family face the following:
Common Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms:
• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg—especially on one side of the body.
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
• Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
The American Heart Association recommends the public act ‘FAST’, to suspect if someone has a stroke:
1. Face: Does their face droop to one side?
2. Arm: Does their arm drift downward on one side?
3. Speech: Ask them to talk, are they mumbling?
4. Time: Notice any of these signs? Time to call the ambulance immediately.
A stroke is an emergency and needs treatment within 3 hours of onset of symptoms, for chance of full recovery. Call an ambulance or rush the individual to the nearest tertiary-care hospital immediately. With timely intervention and the up-to-date care, a stroke no longer needs to be a death sentence, but a challenge to overcome!
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