Identify, Manage, And Prevent A Stroke on Time To Help Lives
What is a stroke?
Cerebrovascular accident (CVA), commonly known as a stroke, is one of the major causes of disease and deaths in the world. It claims the lives of 5 million people worldwide and affects more than 15 million. A stroke is caused when there is not enough oxygen being supplied to the brain, leading to the death of brain cells in minutes.
In this blog, we will discuss how to prevent strokes and how best to manage them.
Types of strokes
Doctors have classified strokes into two main types:
- Ischemic strokes: These account for 85% of strokes worldwide. They occur when the brain does not receive enough blood supply, and therefore oxygen, due to a blood clot in a blood vessel.
- Hemorrhagic strokes: When a weakened blood vessel bursts, it causes a severe oxygen deficit to the brain, resulting in a stroke.
There is also a stroke called TIS, or Transient Ischemic Stroke, which occurs when blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted. This is considered a minor stroke, but it’s wise to take immediate steps to manage it, as it may easily escalate into a major stroke.
How to identify a stroke
Now that you know what kind of strokes exist, let’s try and figure out the ways to identify one.
When it comes to strokes, remember this life-saving acronym: FAST.
- The patient’s face drops to one side, they may find difficulty in smiling, and their eyes and mouth might droop.
- If the patient can’t hold their arms up in the air, and if one or both keep falling, it is a sign of stroke. It happens due to weakness and numbness in the arms.
- The patient’s speech might sound slurred or garbled. They may have difficulty in talking despite being conscious, and in some cases, they may not understand you either.
- Don’t waste time. Call 911 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
Just like the word FAST suggests, if you ever see someone (or yourself) showing signs of these symptoms, act FAST and save a life!
Can you stop a stroke?
Strokes are not necessarily mortal events. With timely care and alert medical services, there’s a good chance that a stroke can be caught and cured.
Here are some common methods that doctors use to stop a stroke:
- A stroke can be caught and prevented by using t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator), which is a clot-dissolving medicine. If delivered within the first three hours of a stroke, t-PA can reverse most symptoms of a stroke.
- Surgery is another option to help remove blockages from the blood vessels in the neck, so that blood can be delivered to the brain.
- Interventional procedures are also applied to help remove blockages such as fatty deposits and plaque from the arteries.
The more holistic approach to stop a stroke would be to avoid it. As you can see, most remedies for strokes are intrusive and require physiological modifications. The right way to cure a stroke is to prevent it by taking good care of yourself.
While most strokes are genetic, that is, we get it because our ancestors did too, many of these can be avoided by living healthily. It’s a fact; a healthy lifestyle helps prevent 80% strokes!
How to Prevent a Stroke
Preventing a stroke is a far healthier life choice than dealing with the post-trauma of living through it. As with any disease that ails humans, regular check-ups, good food choices, and regular exercises help cure diseases more than any intrusive care. Never forget the popular axiom, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!
At Lenco, we offer a wide array of tests that are useful to help determine your blood health:
- Complete blood count (CBC): This includes a check for your level of platelets, which are cells that help clot blood. A lab will also measure electrolyte levels in your blood to see how well your kidneys are working.
- We also offer two tests to learn how quickly your blood clots, these include:
How to prevent a stroke naturally, and through medical aid
A combination of a good diet and exercise can help prevent a stroke naturally, but for holistic care, you will also need to use medical aid. Regular checkups and conscious living are the best ways to prevent and avoid strokes and various diseases.
Lower your blood pressure
Blood pressure is a big indicator of heart diseases. Make sure you keep your blood pressure low and monitor it regularly.
Stop smoking. Smoking has been strongly linked to cardiac diseases, and is a harbinger of strokes. Smoking 20 cigarettes a day makes a person 6 times as likely to die, and patients suffering from a stroke are twice as likely to die due to this habit.
Control your weight
Obesity is a primary risk factor for strokes. Losing weight and being in the right body mass index (BMI) is very helpful in avoiding most diseases, including strokes.
Being physically and mentally active puts you at less risk of strokes. Sometimes preventing strokes can be as simple as moving for a few minutes every hour.
Treat an irregular heart rate
Atrial fibrillation is described as an irregular heart rate that can cause poor circulation of blood. Identifying and managing this phenomenon is of great importance to help reduce the risk of a stroke.
Mini strokes, or TIA, should be caught and treated quickly to avoid future escalations.
Watch out for heart diseases
Keep an eye on other circulatory system diseases, such as peripheral artery disease, sickle cell anemia, and anemia.
Are you checking your body stats regularly?
Keep an eye on your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
While drinking socially or to wind down may be unavoidable, do so in moderate quantities.
About your diet
Eat healthy! A healthy diet, as we all know, has a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, as well as a judicious amount of important vitamins and minerals. Eating healthy food helps manage your cholesterol and blood sugar, and keeps your blood flow smooth.
What can be done to prevent brain damage during a stroke?
Every minute of a stroke kills almost 2 million brain cells.
Such are the gloomy statistics of brain damage from a stroke. Nearly every minute costs lives, and exponentially multiplies the risk of permanent brain damage.
Administering anti-clotting drugs is highly useful, but the fact is that just 5% of patients are diagnosed and helped within 3 hours of a stroke.
Doctors have found that lying flat on a surface helps improve blood circulation to the brain during a stroke, as opposed to a seated position. Sitting decreases blood flow to the brain due to gravitational forces.
Does Aspirin help during a stroke?
Aspirin is a risky move. While on the one hand, it helps prevent blood clots, on the other hand, it can also make it worse.
As we know, there are three types of strokes.
The most common stroke; ischemic strokes, can benefit from Aspirin as it dissolves blood clots. Aspirin can be fatal when used during Hemorrhagic strokes, as it makes the bleeding far worse.
The only reliable option as always, is to call an ambulance when you notice the signs of a stroke - FAST!
Secondary stroke prevention guidelines
Your doctor will give you some medications to help monitor your risk of the disease. You will also need to keep a watchful eye on your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. As with every diseased or healthy human, a healthy diet and regular exercises are miracles for health care. Learn more about the Secondary prevention of stroke and Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)
Stay healthy and stay happy!