A sudden stroke is a common occurrence in the elderly age group. The repercussions are severe and this causes a lot of anxiety.
Stroke is the second major cause of death in the world and the main cause of adult disability in India. Leading neurologist estimate around 80000 deaths due to stroke annually in the country.
What is a stroke:
A stroke or Cerebro-vascular accident occurs when blood vessels supplying the brain are blocked. This interrupts blood flow to brain cells leading to the death of these cells. The blockage could be due to a clot- an Ischaemic stroke or the rupture of blood vessel-Hemorrhagic stroke. Depending on the area of the brain involved and the extent of damage specific body functions such as speech, movement or memory may be affected. A stroke is a life-threatening event and requires immediate medical treatment.
- Numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg especially on one side of the body.
- Trouble in seeing in one or both eyes, such as blurring, double vision or loss of vision.
- Confusion, trouble in speaking or understanding.
- Trouble in walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Severe headache with no known cause.
The symptoms of a stroke can progress gradually over hours or even days. But a sudden clot or bleeding causes some strokes and can occur within seconds.
In some cases, you get an early warning signal called ‘Transient Ischaemic Attack’ –a TIA or a mini-stroke. Its symptoms are similar to a stroke but temporary lasting just a few minutes. About one-third of those hit by a mini-stroke are likely to suffer a stroke within a few months.
- Age: The risk doubles with every decade for people over 55.
- Sex: Men have a 30% higher risk until the age of 55. After that men and women are at equal risk.
- Family History: the risk is far higher if a parent or a sibling has had a stroke.
- Prior History: suffering either a mini-stroke or a stroke multiplies your risk.
- High Blood Pressure.
- Coronary artery disease.
- Smoking including passive smoking.
- Heavy drinking.
- High cholesterol.
- Physical inactivity.
As repeatedly pointed out by doctors the key factors in limiting damage from a stroke are awareness and speed. Don’t ignore any warning signals even if they later turn out to be false alarms. When you suspect a stroke there is no time to wait and watch.
The treatment for stroke has advanced immensely. The critical time is the hour or two immediately after the stroke. If treated properly during this period mortality and disability rates can fall by as much as 20%.
Do not treat strokes with massages and oils. Modern medicine has excellent methods of treatment for all types of strokes. So remember, stroke is a preventable disease.
(Courtesy: Good Bye To Old Age – Dr. V.S. Natarajan)