Stroke and Its Prevention

A stroke is caused by the interruption of the blood supply to the brain, usually because of a blood vessel bursts or is blocked by a clot. This cuts off the supply of oxygen and nutrients, causing damage to the brain tissue.More than 6 million people die because of stroke each year.Worldwide, cerebrovascular accidents (stroke) are the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability.

Strokes can affect individuals at the peak of their productive life and generally is a reason for the significant loss of a source of income for a family and loss of productivity for the society. Despite its enormous impact on countries’ socio-economic development, this growing crisis has received very little attention to date.

The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms include confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech; difficulty seeing with one or both eyes; difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; a severe headache with no known cause; fainting or unconsciousness.The effects of a stroke depend on which part of the brain is injured and how severely it is affected. A very severe stroke can cause sudden death.

The risk factors for stroke are similar to those for coronary heart disease and other vascular diseases. These include hypertension, elevated lipids and diabetes. Risks due to lifestyle factors are also responsible for: smoking, low physical activity levels, unhealthy diet and abdominal obesity.

What can You do to prevent yourself from getting a stroke?

1. Know your blood pressure: High blood pressure usually has no symptoms but is one of the biggest causes of sudden stroke or heart attack. Have your blood pressure checked and know your numbers. If it is high, you will need to change your lifestyle to incorporate a healthy diet with less salt intake and increase physical activity and may need medications to control your blood pressure.

2.Know your blood lipids: Raised blood cholesterol and abnormal blood lipids increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Blood cholesterol needs to be controlled through a healthy diet and, if necessary, by appropriate medications.

3.Know your blood sugar: Raised blood glucose (diabetes) increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you have diabetes it is very important to control your blood pressure and blood sugar to minimise the risk.

4.Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet is crucial to a healthy heart and circulation system. This should include plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish and pulses with restricted salt, sugar and fat intake. Alcohol should also be used in moderation.

5.Take regular physical activity: At least 30 minutes of regular physical activity every day helps to maintain cardiovascular fitness; at least 60 minutes on most days of the week helps to maintain a healthy weight.

6.Avoid tobacco use: Tobacco in every form is very harmful to health – cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or chewable tobacco. Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke is also dangerous. The risk of heart attack and stroke starts to drop immediately after a person stops using tobacco products, and can drop by as much as half after 1 year.

Recently a new therapy is available for treatment of certain type of stroke that can only be given in first 4.5 hours of stroke onset that help to lyse the clot in a blood vessel and restore the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain and prevent the patient from getting major disability.

Dr. Suhas G Patil 

Specialist Neurologist 

Aster Hospital Mankhool 

To know more about Dr. Suhas, visit – Dr. Suhas G Patil