A stroke or the “brain attack” occurs when the circulation of blood to the brain stops. With or without oxygen-rich blood, the brain cells stop functioning and begin to die. If the blood supply is not restored immediately to the brain, the brain cells eventually die leading to permanent/temporary physical disability or even death. Stroke can be either due to lack of blood supply to the brain cells (ischemia) or it can be due to the leakage of blood (hemorrhage). Stroke is independent of the age of the person and anyone can have a stroke: be it a small baby or an adult.
There are various risk factors which may or may not be controlled by a person. Some of the uncontrollable risk factors include age (above 55 years), gender (male or female), ethnicity, and family history of stroke.
The risk factors which can be controlled and prevent the occurrence of stroke include hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and stress.
Signs of stroke include - sudden numbness in face or parts of the body especially on one side
- sudden vision change either in one or both the eyes
- sudden confusion or difficulty in talking
- sudden and severe headache, loss of balance and dizziness
However one can perform the following stroke test to confirm that onset and provide the emergency medical care for the patient:
- Ask the person to SMILE
- Ask the person to TALK
- Ask to person to WALK or RAISE HIS ARM
Difficulty in performing any of the above tasks along with above signs depicts the need of immediate medical care for the patient.
Stroke is the third largest cause of death worldwide ranking behind heart disease and cancers. And stroke is the leading cause of serious disability around the world. Of all the controllable and uncontrollable risk factors around the world, hypertension or high blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke leading to 12.7 million deaths every year, according to the statistics provided by WHO.
However, one of the easiest ways to prevent the occurrence of stroke is to make a change in the lifestyle. These include:
• Avoiding fatty foods, excess alcohol, smoking and exercising regularly
• Regular check up of the blood pressure levels and the blood cholesterol levels
• And following doctor’s recommendations in case of having high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or any heart disease