World Stroke Day 2021: From risk factors to chances of recovery, answers to frequently asked questions

A person is said to suffer from a stroke when a certain part of the brain receives low or no blood oxygen supply. This may happen due to a blockage, leak in blood vessel or a burst in the blood vessel

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A stroke is a serious medical emergency which has a huge impact on patients and their families. In order to allay the fears and concerns associated with this condition, Dr Rohit Gupta, director, Neurology, at Fortis Hospital Faridabad, is sharing the most commonly asked questions on this World Stroke Day.

After all, knowledge is a key step to prevention and recovery.

What is a stroke?

A person is said to suffer from a stroke when a certain part of the brain receives low or no blood oxygen supply. This may happen due to a blockage, leak in blood vessel or a burst in the blood vessel. This may even cause permanent damage to the brain.

What are the different types of strokes that can happen in a person?

There are two types of stroke a person can suffer from. Ischemic stroke happens when a certain part of the brain loses blood supply and oxygen due to a clot in an artery. The other type of stroke is Hemorrhage stroke, which happens due to bleeding in the brain.

Stroke rarely happens in people under the age of 65. True or false?

False. Though people over the age of 65 are more prone to having a stroke, people under this age are also at risk.

What are the common risk factors associated with a stroke?

One of the leading causes of stroke is high blood pressure or hypertension.

Other risk factors that can cause stroke in a person are:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Coronary artery diseases

An easy way to remember some of the most common symptoms of stroke is BE FAST meaning-

  • Balance loss
  • Vision or eyesight loss
  • Facial droopiness
  • Weakness in the Arm
  • Slurred speech
  • Time to act fast

What to do if someone is having a stroke

If you think someone is having a stroke, it is best to act fast. Call an ambulance immediately as strokes are medical emergencies. Immediate medical attention can save the life of a person and increase his chances for better recovery and successful rehabilitation

Why is immediate medical attention necessary in strokes

One of the most common strokes, Ischemic Stroke can be treated with drugs for dissolving clots that obstruct the arteries. However, the window to use it is very small, that is 4.5 hours. This makes it important for a person to reach the hospital within the stipulated time frame for better recovery and rehabilitation.

If a person has a stroke once, will he or she have another one?

There is no sure shot way of knowing whether you are going to have a stroke of not. However, studies have shown that people who have experienced a stroke attack are at an increased risk for another one too. Thus, in order to decrease your chances of having more strokes in the future, it is best to manage your risk factors and consult a specialist.

What is thrombolysis?

If a person suffers from a stroke, he or she could be administered a clot busting drug that helps in dispersing the clot and returning the blood supply back to the brain. The process of administering this medicine is called thrombolysis. However, an important point that needs to be remembered is that it needs to be given within four and a half hours after the stroke symptoms start. As more time passes, it becomes less and less effective. However, not everyone is eligible for thrombolysis.

This may happen in case of the following causes:

  • You have a bleed in your brain
  • You do not know when exactly the stroke symptoms started
  • More time has passed when you reach the hospital
  • You have another bleeding disorder
  • You have had another recent surgery
  • You have already suffered another head injury or stroke in past three months
  • Your current medication is not compatible with thrombolysis

How to prevent stroke?

In order to reduce or prevent the risk of having a stroke, it is best to regularly manage your blood pressure, keep a close track of your cholesterol level, quit smoking and exercise regularly. Any medication should be taken under doctor supervision so as to reduce the risk of blood clots.

How is a stroke treated?

There are different stages of treatments available for different strokes. Immediate treatment therapies include clot busting medications, intraventional neuroradiology and/ or surgery in case a person suffers from an Ischemic stroke. If a person has a hemorrhagic stroke, surgery and medications are the treatment options available. It is important to remember that the sooner a person receives treatment, the better his or her chances of making a successful recovery. Post stroke rehabilitation therapies help the patients in overcoming their disabilities resulting from the brain damage caused.

What are the chances of recovery from a stroke?

Stroke is the second leading cause of death and first leading cause of disability in India. According to Indian Stroke association, the incidence of stroke has increased by 100 percent in the general population over the past few decades. Recovery time from a stroke varies from patient to patient. A stroke directly affects the brain cells. The extent of damage caused by the stroke determines the extent of impairments and recovery period in a person.

People suffering from minor stroke may have only slight impairments whereas a massive stroke can even cause permanent paralysis. Fortunately there are several rehabilitation therapies that help around 25 percent of the patients recover with just slight impairments and around 10 percent to recover fully.

Dr Rohit Gupta is director, Neurology, at Fortis Hospital in Faridabad

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