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World Stroke Day 2021: Minutes can save lives

On World Stroke Day, Dr Suresh Chandran CJ, the chief coordinator at the Department of Neurology at Kimshealth, explains how early diagnosis and prompt treatment can prevent extensive brain damage.

World Stroke Day 2021: Minutes can save lives
Author
Thiruvananthapuram, First Published Oct 29, 2021, 7:30 AM IST
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A stroke or brain attack occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel that breaks and prevents blood flow to a portion of the brain. Brain cells start to die when the brain is deprived of blood and eventually brain damage occurs. 

Stroke induced brain damage can be devastating and change the functional capacity of a person. Stroke is not only a leading cause of death, but it is the leading cause of serious long-term disability. It leaves about half of the survivors with a moderate to severe disability. However, early diagnosis and prompt treatment can prevent extensive brain damage. The physical effects depend on the type of stroke, its location, the stage at which it is diagnosed and treated, and the general health of the person.

Time is Brain

'Time is brain' is a saying that emphasizes the importance of seeking medical help quickly when experiencing a stroke. For every minute that passes while someone is having a stroke, 1.9 million brain cells are lost. Brain tissue is rapidly damaged as a stroke progresses. So the sooner you treat, the better the chances of recovery. Recognition of the early signs of stroke and prompt medical attention is vital for a good recovery. 'Minutes can save lives' is the theme of World Stroke Day this year and this emphasizes the time urgency for treating strokes

BE FAST 

This is an acronym that helps to identify early stroke signs. The first five letters represent stroke signs -- B-Balance (whether the person has any imbalance), E-Eyes (whether the person has any vision problems), F-Face (whether there is any deviation of the face), A-Arms (whether there is any weakness of arms or legs), S-Speech (whether there is any difficulty to speak) -- and T for time urgency. 

World Stroke Day 2021: Minutes can save lives

Lifesaving treatments for stroke patients

About 80 per cent of strokes are ischemic -- caused by a blood clot in the artery that supplies blood to the brain. Thankfully, treatments exist to prevent further damage for patients who suffer from an ischemic stroke; however, these treatments must be given within an appropriate amount of time to be effective.

The most common first-line treatment for ischemic stroke is a blood clot-dissolving drug administered through veins that can help patients when given within 4.5 hours of symptoms onset. The next option is to do angiography and remove a clot using special clot retrieving devices.

How can we prevent a stroke?

Avoiding smoking, keeping a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly at a moderate to vigorous level are a few simple things that can reduce the risk of strokes. One must regularly screen blood pressure and maintain it below 130/80.

Strict control of blood sugar levels and blood cholesterol levels reduce the likelihood of having strokes. Remember, 'Time is brain' and 'Minutes can save lives'.

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