A Preventable Tragedy. Embrace a healthier lifestyle to safeguard your future
Dr. Chirag Gupta
The incidence of stroke, a potentially devastating condition, is alarmingly high worldwide, affecting approximately one in every four individuals. In India, the situation is particularly worrisome, with a rising number of young Indians falling victim to stroke. It is crucial for both the medical community and the younger generation to increase awareness about the risk factors and adopt necessary lifestyle changes to prevent stroke from becoming an epidemic. This article emphasizes the importance of timely diagnosis in preventing permanent paralysis and death caused by stroke. Stroke: Awareness Saves Lives
Understanding the Risk Factors
Stroke is often the result of poor lifestyle choices, including unhealthy eating habits, stress, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity. These factors contribute to conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity, all of which significantly increase the risk of stroke.
Promoting a healthy diet has strong evidence in preventing approximately 80% of all strokes. Avoiding junk food, excessive meat and egg consumption, and adopting a balanced diet can go a long way in reducing the risk of stroke. Regular exercise is crucial in maintaining overall health and can significantly reduce the chances of stroke by maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, controlling blood sugar levels in diabetics, and preventing the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels.
The Urgency of Timely Diagnosis
Strokes can be deadly and are less forgiving than heart attacks. Physical inactivity and the prevalence of risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels contribute to the onset of stroke at an early age. Therefore, recognizing the signs and symptoms of stroke is vital for timely intervention.
The 6-S Method
To aid in the timely diagnosis of stroke, it is important for the public to be aware of the 6-S method:
1. Sudden onset of symptoms
2. Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
3. Side weakness in the arms, face, leg, or all three
4. Sensation of a spinning head, giddiness, or vertigo
5. Severe headache throughout the entire head
6. Note the time of symptom onset and rush to the hospital immediately.
The Impact of Delayed Intervention
Studies have shown that for each minute of delay in treating an ischemic stroke (caused by a blocked blood vessel), a patient can lose 19 lakh brain cells, around 140 crore nerve connections, and 12 km of nerve fibers. Any delay in seeking medical intervention can result in irreversible paralysis or even death.
Advanced Treatment Modalities
The treatment of stroke depends on the type experienced by the patient. Around 85% of strokes are ischemic and can be managed through intravenous medication such as tPA (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator) if administered within 4.5 hours of symptom onset. For cases involving occlusion in large blood vessels, mechanical thrombectomy is a highly effective treatment option. This procedure involves safely removing the clot and restoring blood flow using advanced biplane technology, which provides a 3D view of the brain’s blood vessels for precise access.
Timely diagnosis is crucial in preventing the devastating consequences of stroke. By recognizing the risk factors, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and being aware of the 6-S method, individuals can increase their chances of seeking medical intervention promptly. Advanced treatment modalities such as mechanical thrombectomy have shown remarkable success in restoring blood flow and improving patient outcomes. With increased awareness and access to these treatment options, we can save lives, prevent permanent paralysis, and combat the growing burden of stroke-related complications in our society.
(The author works as a Consultant Neurosurgeon at Yatharth Hospital, Greater Noida)