Brain stroke: Act in time

By Dr. Puneet Agarwal in Neuro Oncology

Oct 05 , 2015 | 2 min read


Brain attack is caused by sudden onset blockage of blood flow or rupture of blood vessel in brain. It is the second leading cause of disability and death in the world. One out of six people worldwide has brain attack in their life time. Every six seconds, regardless of age or gender, someone, somewhere will die from stroke.

What causes a brain attack?

Stroke results from disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain with blood. For example, turbulent blood flow through the carotid bifurcation (point where the common carotid artery splits into the internal and external carotid artery branches) dislodges material from the atherosclerotic narrowing and carries it to the brain, where it may form a plug in the arteries.

The main types of strokes are ischemic stroke and haemorrhagic stroke:

  • Ischemic stroke happens when an artery leading to the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot (cerebral embolism) and circulation is obstructed
  • Ischemic stroke is also caused when a plaque or other fatty deposits (cerebral thrombosis) blocks an artery, significantly reducing blood flow (for example, to less than one fourth of the normal flow level)
  • Haemorrhagic stroke is caused by a rupture of the blood vessels which feed the brain

Warning signs of a brain attack

Warning signs are clues your body sends that your brain is not receiving enough oxygen. If you observe one or more of these signs of a stroke or ‘brain attack’, don’t wait, call a doctor or nearby hospital having ICU and CT scan facility!

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of 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
  • Remember by FAST - F - deviation of face, A - arm or leg weakness, S - speech slurred, T - time (act fast to save brain)

Other danger signs that may occur include double vision, drowsiness, and nausea or vomiting. Sometimes the warning signs may last only a few moments and then disappear. These brief episodes, known as transient ischemic attacks or TIAs, are sometimes called ‘mini-strokes’. Although brief, they identify an underlying serious condition that isn't going away without medical help. Unfortunately, since they clear up, many people ignore them. Don't. Heeding them can save your life.

What should a bystander do?

If you believe someone is having a stroke – call a nearby hospital having CT scan and ICU facility with neurologist, immediately.

    • Act in Time

Stroke is a medical emergency. Every minute counts when someone is having a stroke. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage. Immediate stroke treatment can save people’s lives and enhance their chances of successful recovery.

Why is there a need to act fast?

Ischemic strokes, the most common type of strokes, can be treated with a drug called t-PA that dissolves blood clots obstructing blood flow to the brain. The window of opportunity to start treating stroke patients is three hours, but to be evaluated and receive treatment, patients need to get to the hospital within 60 minutes.

What is the benefit of treatment?

A five-year study by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) found that some stroke patients who received t-PA within 4.5 hours of the start of stroke symptoms were at least 30 per cent more likely to recover with little or no disability after three months.