BENGALURU: Even when brain stroke is becoming a worldwide epidemic, especially in the third world, it affects 20 million people every year throughout the globe, out of which 5 million die due to stroke. There is still lack of knowledge and awareness among the public about this major health problem. Stroke is fundamentally a brain disorder which results because of decreased or cutting off of blood flow or rupture of blood carrying tubes in the brain. There are multiple risk factors that contribute in developing a stroke. The risk factors for stroke which cannot be modified are:
nAge and gender
The symptoms of stroke depend on the area of brain involved and can vary from simple numbness to deep coma and even death.
nDifficulty to speak
nWeakness of a part of the body
nLoss of vision
nLoss of balance
nAltered state of consciousness
nAcute severe headache
Along with a few blood investigations, doctors usually either CT scan a brain or do MRI of the brain for patients with stroke symptoms. The landmark study of NIND (National Institute of Neurological Diseases-USA) regarding the usage of ‘clot buster’ drug r-tpa has helped thousands of stroke-affected people in improving significantly and have minimum or no long-term disability.
The Golden Hour
The only constraint that comes with the above-mentioned drug is the time factor. The affected individual must reach the hospital within 4.5 hours after the first symptoms are noted. This is also called ‘Golden Hour’ for the treatment of brain stroke. NGOs, Government bodies and private sectors must take major initiatives to educate people about the availability of this drug and the importance of taking the stroke affected person to the hospital at the earliest. Seeking medical advice as early as possible can also significantly reduce the long-term disability.
Stroke improvement is a continuous process accompanied by proper rehabilitation and medications. However, most facilities are only available in some major hospitals and are hence not as accessible or feasible for the majority population. Hence there is a need for many more well-equipped hospitals and rehabilitation centers with specialised medical personnels. What is also required is that the awareness initiatives expand and reach out to rural areas to ensure that maximum people are adequately informed and educated about stroke, its symptoms as well as its treatment.
-The author is lead consultant Neurology, Aster RV Hospital