Stroke is one of the major causes of disability and mortality. Globally, 15 million people either die or are permanently disabled due to strokes. It is a leading cause of death, loss of vision, speech, and paralysis. Its incidence is more in the developing countries than developed countries and in the coming years, the mortality is supposed to increase further in the Middle East and Africa.
Though the risk of having a stroke increases with age, it can occur to anyone with a likelihood of women having one more than men. It is also known that people of African origin are at a higher risk than other races. However, it is common that most people are unaware of the differences between a stroke and a heart attack and they tend to get confused.
What’s the difference between a heart attack and a stroke?
When we refer to a condition called heart attack, we refer to a condition where the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked. The heart muscle dies out without oxygenated blood. This is, in most cases, a result of a clot in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. When the heart muscle starves for oxygenated blood, it causes the symptoms of a heart attack.
A stroke refers to a condition where the artery that supplies blood to the brain is clogged by a clot and a section of the brain, when deprived of oxygenated blood dies off.
Symptoms of a heart attack and a stroke vary and most times, a stroke affects only one side of the body. The term stroke is often misunderstood to be a synonym of heart attack, which is not the case.
Types Of Stroke:
There are different types of a stroke and the symptoms of a stroke are not so apparent that one rushes to the ER as fast as one does in the case of a heart attack.
- • Ischemic Strokes
- • Hemorrhagic Strokes
- • Transient Ischemic Attacks
It is a matter of fact that strokes can occur in the young and infants too. And, women are at an equal risk as men in case of strokes. Strokes generally occur when the blood supply to the brain are interrupted. When there is inadequate supply of oxygen to that part of the brain, it dies.
An Ischemic Stroke occurs due to the narrowing or the blockage of arteries that supply blood to the brain. These are generally caused due to blood clots that are either formed in the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain or, are swept through the bloodstream. Plaques are responsible for these clots.
A Hemorrhagic Stroke occurs when arteries supplying blood to the brain leak or burst. A Transient ischemic attack occurs when the blood flow to the brain is only briefly interrupted.
Stroke Symptoms & Warning Signs:
- • Trouble Speaking, Confusion.
- • Trouble Understanding.
- • Headache (one sided)
- • Altered Conscious.
- • Vomiting.
- • Numbness of the face, or extremities.
- • Trouble with vision.
- • Lack of coordination and dizziness.
FAST is a very good technique to diagnose a stroke at home. FAST stands for Face, Arm, Speech, and Time test. A facial droop, a weak arm, slurred speech, and an inability to react normally are sure symptoms of a stroke and one should be rushed to an ER immediately.
In most cases, the time taken to rush the patient to the hospital is of prime importance. When one observes one of the above mentioned symptoms, much damage can be reduced by rushing to an ER.
Diagnosis of a stroke is done by physical examination, blood tests, CT scans, MRI, and carotid ultrasound along with a cerebral angiogram. Treatments focus on breaking down the blood clots, which can include injections like tissue plasminogen activator, medications that prevent constrictions of the blood vessels and sudden seizures, and blood transfusions.
As part of after treatment care, speech therapy, physiotherapy, and psychological therapies are provided; however, as prevention is better than cure, people in the risk zone should prevent strokes by the following methods.
- • Keeping blood pressure under control.
- • Getting periodical checkups.
- • Managing diabetes.
- • Controlling Sleep Apnea.
- • Healthy diet.
- • Moderate and regular exercise.
- • Quitting smoking and alcohol.
- • Eat more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and lean meats.
- • Regulating cholesterol levels.
- • Reducing salt intake.
- • Maintaining healthy BMI.
Remember, an aspirin is not always the solution in case of a stroke. It can be detrimental in case of a hemorrhagic stroke as it can worsen the situation. As soon as a person experiences the symptoms of a stroke, it is advised that they rush to an ER.