Yes, it is a medical emergency. A brain attack occurs due to a blocked vessel (medically known as ischemic stroke) or due to a ruptured blood vessel (medically known as hemorrhagic stroke or a subarachnoid haemorrhage).
Dr. Chandril Chugh, Senior Consultant and Head of Interventional Neurology of Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, says that stroke/brain attack may cause these following symptoms:
- Weakness and numbness on one side of the body
- Difficulty in speaking and understanding the words
- Loss of vision
- Severe headaches or in some cases Death.
*Symptoms depend on which part of the brain is affected and if not treated well in time, the weakness and other neurological defects may become permanent and extremely disabling.
How severe can be a stroke?
If I were to say stroke is really bad, you will probably not believe me. Luckily, some studies have made my job easier. According to a study done by researchers in 2006 in the USA, a patient with ischemic stroke 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 paralysed for life and becomes dependent. That's pretty scary!!!
How do you recognise stroke?
STROKE: REMEMBER THE 6 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)
- SEVERE HEADACHE
- SECONDS ( note the time when the symptoms start and rush to the hospital)
Is there any treatment for stroke?
Since 85% of all strokes are ischemic (blocked blood vessel), the treatment depends on which kind of stroke the person has had. There is an option of intravenous medication called tPA (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator), which is given to the patient 3 to 4.5 hours before the symptoms onset. The patients who have a blockage in a large blood vessel are offered a procedure called as Mechanical Thrombectomy, which involves removing the blockage in the blood vessel and restores the blood supply. This procedure is performed using 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.
The most important of stroke care is not the doctor or hospital, it is the Patient. As most stroke attacks that occur are painless, patients tend to ignore their symptoms and delay their treatment. If the patient and family are aware of the stroke symptoms they can reach the hospital in time and can get themselves treated.