Warning signs of a stroke
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Today we begin a new topic.
Working in the hospital I get to see a lot of people with this condition, some come in a few hours after it happens, others a few days, while others take weeks and months before presenting.
Some come conscious others are brought in various stages of unconsciousness.
Some even present dead.
That’s why we need to discuss #stroke.
What is a stroke?
It is a condition where signs of brain disturbance develop fast and may manifest in specific parts of the body like weakness or paralysis of limbs. It may even lead to coma and death.
According to the WHO 15 million people have a stroke yearly out of which 5 million die and 5 million have a permanent disability.
This is truly disturbing and a great burden to health care.
Let’s look at the causes of stroke.
In this part of the world, uncontrolled hypertension is usually the most common cause, this happens when the blood pressure damages the blood vessels in the brain which may lead to a blockage or a rupture of the blood vessels.
Other conditions like heart disease, complicated diabetes, atherosclerosis, sickle cell disease etc. can also lead to a stroke.
Types of stroke.
There are two major types, #ischemic stroke and #haemorrhagic stroke.
Ischemic stroke occurs due to lack of blood supply to parts of the brain, e.g. from a blood clot.
Haemorrhagic stroke on the other hand implies bleeding into the brain. It can easily lead to death.
What happens to you when you have a stroke?
What are the things that should let you suspect a stroke is about to happen? lets start from the face , the face may look unequal, what we call asymmetry, the mouth may droop to one side.
Next are the limbs, one may discover he or she is unable to move the arm or unable to walk or stand up.
Speech may be slurred also.
Remember to act FAST if you notice FAST.
F – Face drooping
A – Arm weakness
S – Slurred speech
T – Time to call Emergency!
There may also be vision problems like seeing double and memory problems like forgetfulness or not understanding when spoken to. Other signs one should watch for include headaches, vomiting, seizures and varying degrees of and complete loss of consciousness, these are more common in haemorrhagic strokes.
There can be rapid progress to death. This is why time is of the essence in managing a stroke. Try to get to the hospital under four and a half hours for best results
let’s discuss common myths and beliefs regarding stroke. Some believe that stroke is a disease of the elderly. This is not true, children and young adults have strokes.
Another belief is that you can just massage away a stroke, maybe by going to the village to get massaged; although there is a role for physiotherapy in stroke management, this is under qualified hands, mere massaging will not reverse the cause of the stroke.
When you suspect a stroke, the first thing to do is to get the person to hospital, it is better to err on the side of caution than to cause complications by doing nothing.
A #CT scan or an #MRI of the brain will be done. This will tell if it is a stroke and what kind of stroke it is. it will also show the part of the brain where the problem lies. This will aid proper management.
No attempt should be made to treat a stroke at home, you need to be in a hospital and not just any hospital but one that has a neurologist, this is a specialist in diseases of the brain and nervous system.
Stroke requires a multi disciplinary approach, this means you need doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, speech and occupational therapists working hand in hand to deliver care to the patient.
The good news is that the damage caused by stroke can be reversed if action is taken within a few minutes and a few hours at the most, delay in presentation at the hospital is an important cause of mortality.
Medical and sometimes surgical interventions may be necessary to treat stroke.
Surgery may be done to remove a blood clot in the brain.
If stroke is not well managed it can lead to death and permanent disability. Remember to act fast in stroke
How can we prevent strokes? First of all, one has to live a healthy life, avoid smoking and alcoholism, exercise as many times as you can in a week. I
f you’re obese, losing weight will go a long way towards reducing your chances of having a stroke.
Are you hypertensive or diabetic? Ensure you take your drugs religiously and go for regular check ups and do your routine tests.
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