EXCLUSIVE: The symptoms of a stroke & ALL you need to know about it revealed by Dr Prashant Makhija

On the occasion fo World Stroke Day, which is on October 29th, the doctor tells us all the symptoms of a stroke and how to get help in time, to save lives.
EXCLUSIVE: The symptoms of a stroke & ALL you need to know about it revealed by Dr Prashant MakhijaEXCLUSIVE: The symptoms of a stroke & ALL you need to know about it revealed by Dr Prashant Makhija
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Every year 29th October is celebrated as World Stroke Day to raise awareness of the prevention and treatment of this disabling illness. On this occasion, we share facts related to stroke, its symptoms and the importance of timely treatment.

What is a Stroke? What are the various types of Stroke?

Stroke is a disorder resulting from disruption of blood supply to the brain, which starves the brain of oxygen resulting in damage and loss of function of the involved part of the brain.

Stroke is basically of two types:

  1. Ischemic stroke: It occurs as a result of clot formation in the blood vessel supplying to the brain. It accounts for the majority (~ 85%) of cases.
  2. Haemorrhagic stroke: It occurs when a blood vessel supplying the brain ruptures resulting in leakage of blood into the brain parenchyma or its coverings.

What are the symptoms of a Stroke?

Stroke symptoms can be remembered with the acronym ‘BEFAST’. Suspect stroke when a person has a sudden onset of:

B - trouble with balance

E - vision loss

F - deviation of the face

A -arm weakness

S - slurring of speech

T - time to act fast

Why Stroke matters?

Today Stroke is the leading cause of death and disability globally but it is important to emphasize that stroke is not only preventable but if managed appropriately in a timely manner, resulting disability can be minimized. It is estimated that one in four adults above the age of 25yrs in a lifetime will have a stroke. Annually 10 million people suffer from stroke worldwide, of these one-third die and one-third are permanently disabled. As per WHO estimates, every 5 seconds someone becomes a victim of a stroke. If we look at the figures for India, it accounts for nearly one-tenth of the cases occurring worldwide. 

Why it is important to seek timely treatment?

In the management of stroke, particularly the Ischemic stroke, time plays a crucial role. For each minute lost without treatment, the brain loses 1.9 million neurons and for each hour lost without treatment brain ages by 3.6yrs. The medication is given for dissolving the clot (clot-busting therapy) or in some cases if a patient needs surgical removal of the clot (mechanical thrombectomy), the window of opportunity is narrow and these treatment options can only be offered to patients within the initial 4.5-6hrs of the onset of stroke symptoms. It is therefore important that patients with stroke seek timely treatment.

Given the number of patients suffering from stroke worldwide, associated morbidity and mortality it is important to make ourselves aware of this dreaded illness and be able to recognize the symptoms with which it can present. With the advancement of treatment options in stroke, timely management can not only be life-saving but can also reverse or minimize the resulting deficits from a stroke.

About the author: Dr. Prashant Makhija, Consultant Neurologist, Wockhardt Hospital Mumbai Central

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