KOCHI: Stroke is a major debilitating disease caused due to either due to bleeding inside the brain or interruption of blood supply to a part of the brain. It is the first leading cause of permanent physical disability and the second leading cause of death. Stroke affects one life every six seconds and it will affect one in six people in their lifetime.
Types of stroke
Hemorrhagic stroke – Cause by bleeding inside or around the brain. Major causes are trauma, uncontrolled blood pressure or abnormality of blood vessels such as the abnormal connection between artery or vein or a bulge in the artery of the brain called aneurysms.
Ischemic stroke – caused by narrowing or blockage in the arteries supplying to the brain.
Identification of stroke
A stroke can be identified by common people by identifying certainsimple changes in a person.
Balance: Is the person experiencing a sudden loss of balance or coordination?
Eyes: Is the person having a sudden change in vision or trouble seeing.
Face: Ask the person to smile. Does once side of the face droop?
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred?
Time: If you observe any of these signs its time to call for medical care.
Apart from these simple signs, there are several other symptoms of stroke, like having a seizure or fits and loss of consciousness.
Treatment of stroke
Our brain is a very sensitive organ. After the onset of stroke, when the blood supply is blocked, the brain tries to survive by shutting down the function of the brain. However, this lasts for a very short period called a window period during which if blood supply is restored, the brain can regain its function to a large extent. Otherwise, the part of the brain becomes permanent nonfunctional.
Once a stroke patient is received in the hospital, he immediately undergoes a scan to identify the type of stroke, part of the brain involved and are whether there any occlusion or any abnormality of the blood vessel.
If identified as an ischemic stroke, a person may be given a clot-dissolving medicine to dissolve the clot.
This medicine can be administered generally up to 4.5 hours after the onset of stroke. This drug dissolves the clot and opens the blood vessel thereby restoring the blood supply to the part of brain.
In case the scans show that a large blood vessel to the brain is blocked, in addition to clot-dissolving medicine, a new therapy like mechanical thrombectomy is shown to be very effective. This procedure is performed using a special machine known as cathlab where through the groin artery a tube is taken into the clot in the brain vessel and using a special device the clot from the brain is removed.
The author is a consultant, Imaging & Interventional Radiology at KIMS Hospital.
(The views expressed are his own)