Stroke is a medical condition where there is a sudden disruption of flow to the brain. This could be due to a blockage by atherosclerosis or due to a bleed. The risk factors for this are Diabetes mellitus, Hypertension, tobacco consumption and alcoholism.
2. What age can stroke occur?
Stroke can occur at any age. The risk factors can also be congenital, and lifestyle choices raise the risk of stroke even in young adults. Hence stroke can occur from young teenagers to elderly adults.
3. What are the risk factors for the stroke?
Indians are at higher risk for stroke due to ethnic factors, and genetic factors also can increase the risk of stroke. Modifiable risk factors include smoking, heart disease, carotid disease.
4. Are all strokes the same?
No. A stroke which occurs due to infarct and one which occurs due to bleeding are different and require a different strategy to manage them. In case of an infarct, we need to give a drug and lyse the clot whereas in case of a bleed we have to decrease the size of the bleed either with medications or if extensive surgery may be required.
5. How do we diagnose what the type of stroke is?
In the hospital, a CT/MRI scan can diagnose within minutes of the stroke occurring what the type of stroke is.
6. If we diagnose early, can we treat it?
Absolutely. With medical and technological advancements stroke secondary to an infarct in any age can be treated by drugs within 4.5 hrs of onset and by surgery to up to 24hrs by thrombectomy wherein the clot is removed by a procedure. The stroke must be recognized early and ideally within the 1 hour, which is the golden hour the patient should reach the hospital.
Similarly, even a bleed can be treated if immediate medical attention is provided
7. How to recognize a stroke if it is occurring, and how soon should I reach the hospital?
FAST is an acronym used as a mnemonic to ease recognize and improve responsiveness to the demands of a person having a stroke. FAST stands for Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and time to call emergency assistance.
Facial drooping: A division of the face, normally only on one side, that is drooping and difficult to move. A twisted smile can recognize this.
Arm weakness: The incapacity to raise one's arm completely
Speech difficulties: A difficulty or inability to produce or understand speech
Time: If any of the indications above are convincing, time is of the essence; call the emergency assistance or go to the hospital
The chances of recovery improve the sooner you reach the hospital, and the stroke is diagnosed and treated early.