India, with the largest number of patients suffering from hypertension, obesity, and diabetes (unfortunately, they are the risk factors for stroke) may very well be called as the “Stroke Capital” or at least would be heading towards becoming one.
The more we know about stroke, the better we are going to be in dealing with this menace. In my practice, I come across various patients with varying degrees of curiosity about the causes of stroke. One such curious query that is often directed my way is whether “Sex can cause brain stroke”?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is “Yes”. Sex is not a common cause of stroke but, it has been associated with various kinds of brain stroke.
The neurology literature does talk about brain strokes in patients during the sexual intercourse and even following it.
Now, what is interesting in this regard is how does sex cause stroke?
Patients have been known to have strokes where a blood clot travels from the legs to heart (during sexual activity) and then makes its way into the brain to cause a blockage in the blood flow to the brain. Subarachnoid hemorrhage (kind of stroke where a blood vessel ruptures to spill blood into the brain) has also been associated with sexual activity and those patients suffer from a severe and terrible headache often associated with nausea or vomiting. In some patients, the blood vessels in the neck that carry blood from the heart to the brain may get injured or dissected and may cause a stroke. Sex, although not very often can cause brain stroke.
So, that brings me to another question, how would one know if he or she is having a stroke. Recognizing stroke is a matter of knowledge and awareness and not expertise. If you know the signs and symptoms of stroke you don’t need a doctor to diagnose stroke.
STROKE: REMEMBER THE 7 S METHOD TO DIAGNOSE STROKE
- SUDDEN (symptoms usually start suddenly)
- SLURRED Speech ( speech is not clear as if drunk)
- SIDE WEAK ( face, arm or leg or all three can get weak)
- SPINNING ( VERTIGO) with disbalance
- A severe headache with or without nausea or vomiting.
- Sight ( loss of vision)
- SECONDS ( note the time when the symptoms start and rush to the hospital)
Any of these symptoms can be present, all of them don’t need to present to diagnose stroke.
Is Stroke treatable?
Yes of course it is, but the likelihood of good recovery goes down with every passing minute. According to a study done by researchers in 2006 in the USA, a patient with ischemic stroke (stroke due to the blocked blood vessel) loses 190,0000 brain cells every minute, about 14000,000,000 nerve connections are destroyed every minute and 12 km (7.5 miles) of nerve fibers are lost every minute. The end result is the patient is paralyzed for life and becomes dependent. That's pretty scary!!!
What is the single most important factor in stroke care?
The most important part of stroke care is not the doctor or the hospital, it’s the patient! Patients tend to ignore their symptoms and hence delay the treatment. If the patient and the family are aware of stroke symptoms they can reach the hospital in time and can get treated.
Is there any treatment for Stroke?
Yes. The treatment depends on which kind of stroke the patient has. Up to 85 % of all strokes are ischemic (blocked blood vessel). For ischemic brain attack, there is an option of intravenous medication called tPA (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator) available which can be given to the patient within first 3 to 4.5 hours of the symptom onset. The patients who have a blockage in a large blood vessel can be offered a procedure called Mechanical Thrombectomy ( can be done up to 24 hours, but sooner the better!!!), which involves removing the blockage in the blood vessel and restoring the blood supply. This procedure is done through a small nick in the groin and there is no open surgery involved. Recent trials have shown that patients do exceedingly well post mechanical thrombectomy and have a greater chance to live life independently.