By Dr Charles-Davies OA of 25 Doctors
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the word ‘stroke’ before.
It is a very popular disease that is talked about very frequently by healthcare professionals or on T.V.
It is not rare to hear that a popular celebrity or politician had suffered a stroke.
Despite how popular the term is, a lot of people don’t really understand what it means, who it affects or how it is treated. What is commonly known about it is that it can lead to death and major disability.
In this post, we will be discussing 5 important things you should know about this disease to help you understand it better.
1. It affects millions of people every year
According to the World Health Organization, 15 million people suffer a stroke every year. This is a staggering number. When we break this down, it means that there are more than 40,000 cases of stroke yearly. So, it is quite a common disease, that definitely affects many individuals in all countries regardless of socio-economic development.
2. It can cause sudden death and major disabilities
Stroke is a deadly disease, as a matter of fact, out of the 15 million people that suffer strokes, 5 million of them die, while another 5 million of them have permanent disabilities. The worrying thing about deaths from stroke is that it is often very sudden. This is probably why the medical name for it is “cerebrovascular accident”.
So, it is not some disease that we can afford not to know about. More people need to know about its causes and how to prevent it. Another scary statistic is that this disease is the second leading cause of death worldwide after ischemic heart disease.
3. It is caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain and there are two types
A stroke happens when there is a sudden interruption of the flow of blood to the brain, it often happens without an obvious warning. When blood flow is cut short, the brain cells are deprived of oxygen and nutrients and could die off quickly.
There are two ways this can happen, hence the classification of the stroke into two categories.
These are two types of stroke:
- Ischemic stroke
- Hemorrhagic stroke
Now, those names may sound too ‘medical’ but ischemic stroke simply means that a blood clot has shut off blood supply to the brain by blocking an artery. This leads to cerebral tissue death, disability and sometimes death. This is the more common type of stroke.
On the other hand, a hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel ruptures in the brain, spilling out blood which compresses brain matter, hence the symptoms of stroke or even sudden death. This is often caused by high blood pressure or aneurysms.
There’s also a condition called ‘transient ischemic attack’ that leads to sudden symptoms of a stroke. As its name implies, it is temporary and goes away in minutes or hours. It is often referred to as a ‘mini-stroke’. They should not be ignored because it can mean that a person could develop a ‘real stroke’ soon if they don’t get treated.
4. It can cause one-sided body weakness
This is perhaps the most common symptoms of a stroke, but then there are several others. Here are common stroke symptoms:
- A severe headache
- Visual problems
- Facial deviation
- Sudden body weakness
- Inability to move limbs
- Slurred speech
- Loss of balance
Sometimes a person may lose consciousness immediately without prior warning.
5. It can sometimes be treated successfully
If a person has been diagnosed with a stroke, certain steps are taken to treat it. Not everyone makes a full recovery, but the chances of full recovery go up if a person with a stroke is treated urgently and appropriately.
Depending on the cause, stroke can be treated by medicines to dissolve blood clots, reduce brain tissue swelling, and blood pressure.
Also, procedures can be carried out to manually remove blood clots or treat swelling in the brain.
During this treatment process, doctors usually involve physiotherapists who take charge of the rehabilitation process for these patients. Many types of equipment are used to support their full recovery and their ability to cope with the symptoms of a stroke.
For example, a teak shower bench can be used in their bathtub to help them sit to shower. Also, they can be assisted to the shower via a wheelchair, then use a tub transfer bench to get over the wall of the tub.
Different rehabilitative exercises are also suggested to improve muscle tone, grasp, and strength.
6. It can be prevented
To prevent a stroke, you should eat healthily, exercise appropriately and routinely check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If your blood pressure or cholesterol levels are elevated, you’ll need to be adherent to any medications your doctor may prescribe.
These are 6 important things that help to summarize basic things you should know about a stroke. It is very deadly but can be prevented by living healthy, eating a balanced diet, avoiding obesity, exercising regularly, and routinely checking your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.