The number of stroke cases is rising rapidly in India. Both environmental factors and urban lifestyle are paving the way towards this silent killer. The situation is that stroke has become one of the largest causes of death and disability in the world and is reaching the levels of an epidemic. It can happen without any warning, and this sudden nature is precisely why it is termed as a silent killer. Stroke is of many types, even though all of them may sound similar to the layman.
What is a Stroke?
Stroke is a disease that targets the arteries leading to and within the brain. During a stroke, a person will experience an immediate stop of blood supply to the brain. The stop may be because of a blockage in the blood vessel (ischemic stroke) or if a blood vessel ruptures (hemorrhagic stroke). Since the blood vessels carry oxygen and nutrients to the brain, a sudden stop of blood to the brain causes the brain cells to die resulting in death.
What are its Risk Factors?
The chances of stroke increase for people who have a family history related to stroke, i.e. their first-degree relative experienced a stroke.
According to various researchers, the chance of stroke increases (almost doubles) after one turns 55.
The cases of stroke are higher in women than in men, and every year more women die because of stroke than men.
Previous History of Stroke
The risk of stroke is higher for someone who has already suffered from a stroke previously. Transient Ischemic Stroke (TIA) or warning strokes elevate the risk of strokes.
People who are obese, have a sedentary lifestyle and smoke are at a significantly higher risk of suffering from a stroke. All these lifestyle factors increase the risk of blood clots because they aid in the development of cholesterol in major arteries.
What is a Silent Stroke?
Silent strokes are the strokes that a person has experienced without ever knowing or realising that it happened. So, if a person had a stroke but never realised it – it is a silent stroke. These silent strokes are usually diagnosed unexpectedly through a CT or an MRI scan. MRI may have been done due to any other reason or symptoms and a silent stroke can be detected.
What is a Mini Stroke?
Dr. Kapil Kumar Singhal, Senior Consultant, Neurology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali, says that A mini-stroke, also known as a ‘Transient Ischemic Attack’ or TIA occurs when blood vessel(s) suffer from a temporary blockage in the brain, which results in disruption of the blood flow. A mini-stroke or TIA will cause certain symptoms which usually improve spontaneously within a few minutes. Below are some signs that may point towards a mini-stroke:
- Trouble in speaking (dysphasia)
- One-sided facial droop
- Vision changes (temporary blindness in one eye or double vision)
- Problems with balance
- Abnormal sense of taste and smell
- Passing out
In case a person suffers from a TIA, the symptoms may last a couple of hours. It is essential to treat mini-strokes as soon as possible. They act as a warning sign before a full-blown stroke and call for a medical emergency. There are high chances of recurrence of TIA or occurrence of full-blown stroke in patients with mini-stroke and hence it has to be treated as a medical emergency.
What are the Causes of a Mini-Stroke and Silent Stroke?
Both mini-stroke and silent strokes are caused due to the blockage of the blood vessel(s) that ends up cutting the blood supply to the brain. However, a mini-stroke is a major medical event and more critical than a silent stroke, a mini-stroke or TIA can lead to a major stroke and proper evaluation and treatment of TIA can lead to a reduction of stroke risk dramatically. A silent stroke also carries a higher risk of stroke though as it is diagnosed incidentally, true risk is difficult to estimate. Both of these occur due to blockage of blood vessels. The major causes include Plaques which are deposits of fat and other tissue in large blood vessels, these plaques can rupture and lead to occlusion of small distal vessels, which at times open up themselves and lead to spontaneous improvement of symptoms.
Strokes can be deadly, and it does not matter if they are mini or silent. It is important to get stroke treatment as soon as the first symptoms or signs are visible. We at Max Healthcare take pride in being one of the best neurology hospitals in India for stroke treatment. We have dedicated stroke teams which manage strokes as per international standards, we have specialized stroke clinics and neurologists with vast experience in managing strokes from silent strokes, mini-strokes to acute strokes. Our team of highly qualified staff works to provide a healthier tomorrow for our patients. Remember, stroke treatment is essential, and the sooner a patient gets it, the better it is for their future health.