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When Seconds Count: The Importance of Stroke Awareness

By Dr. Shamsher Dwivedee in Neurosciences , Neurology

Nov 03 , 2023 | 3 min read

Strokes, also known as "brain attacks," occurs when there's an interruption in the blood flow to the brain, resulting in various physical and cognitive limitations. They are a global health concern, affecting people of all ages, and can strike suddenly without warning. Strokes are not just a matter of health but can also mean the difference between life and death or a life of independence versus one of disability.

Causes of Strokes

Common factors that contribute to strokes include:

Types of Strokes

  1. Ischemic Stroke: This is the most common type of stroke, accounting for about 87% of all cases. It occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel, cutting off the blood supply to a part of the brain. There are two main subtypes of ischemic strokes:
    • Thrombotic Stroke: Caused by a clot forming in a blood vessel in the brain.
    • Ischemic Stroke: Occurs when a clot forms elsewhere in the body and travels to the brain, blocking a blood vessel.
  2. Haemorrhagic Stroke: Hemorrhagic strokes account for about 13% of all strokes. These strokes happen when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or leaks. There are two primary types of hemorrhagic strokes:
    • Intracerebral Hemorrhage: This type occurs when a blood vessel within the brain bursts and blood accumulates in the surrounding tissue.
    • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: It takes place in the space surrounding the brain, usually due to a ruptured aneurysm.

Warning signs of strokes

Recognising the warning signs of a stroke is critical for early intervention. The BE FAST acronym can help you remember the signs:

  • B – Balance: Unexpected loss of balance or coordination.
  • E – Eyes: Rapid onset of blurred vision or vision impairment.
  • F – Face: Sudden sagging or drooping on one side of the face.
  • A – Arms: Abrupt weakness or numbness in a single arm.
  • S – Speech: Slurring of speech or difficulty in speaking clearly.
  • T – Time: When any of these indications are noticed, it's crucial to promptly contact emergency services without delay.

Management Tips

The "golden hour" in stroke care is a critical window of opportunity, where swift medical intervention can make the difference between life, recovery, and severe disability. Recognising and acting on stroke symptoms during this hour is pivotal for maximising the chances of positive outcomes. Strokes require immediate medical attention, but knowing how to manage the situation can make a significant difference:

  • Call Emergency Services: As soon as you suspect a stroke, call for emergency medical assistance. Time is crucial for minimising damage.
  • Stay Calm: Keep the person calm and reassure them that help is on the way.
  • Note the Time: It's essential to remember when the symptoms began, as this can impact treatment options.
  • Do not give food or drink: Eating or drinking can be dangerous for someone experiencing a stroke.
  • Position Comfortably: Help the person sit or lie down in a comfortable position.

Read more - What to Avoid When Someone is Having a Stroke?

Preventive Tips

While not all strokes can be prevented, there are several strategies that can reduce your risk:

  • Regularly monitoring and management of blood pressure.
  • Healthy diet
  • Regular exercise reduce risk factors like hypertension and diabetes.
  • Avoiding smoking can have immediate and long-term benefits for your vascular health.
  • Limit alcohol
  • Manage diabetes
  • Atrial Fibrillation management

Read more - Understanding Stroke: Recognising Signs and Taking Preventive Measures

On this World Stroke Day, let's commit to raising awareness about the causes, warning signs, management, prevention, and treatment of strokes. Education is the first step towards making a significant impact in reducing the devastating effects of strokes on individuals and their families.