Stroke- More than just paralysis

It's not uncommon these days to hear about someone having a stroke or 'paralysis attack'.

So what do these scary-sounding words mean?

A stroke is said to occur when the blood flow to the brain (or some part of it) gets suddenly cut off. It can be caused by the obstruction of blood vessels of the brain or due to rupture of any of these vessels.

This interrupted blood flow causes death of brain cells in that part of the brain, within just 2 minutes of the blood-flow stoppage. As cells die, the function of that part begins to decline.

This can lead to permanent disability if you're unable to do activities controlled by this part of the brain. A stroke can affect language, moods, vision, and movement. Death occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen and blood for too long. Early treatment raises the chance of surviving a stroke, and can result in little or no disability.

So, the real question is- how to prevent a stroke before it occurs?

  • Cardiovascular disease- If you already have one, make sure to keep it in check with medications, regular check-ups and adopting an active & healthy lifestyle.
  • Tobacco use- Being a risk factor for stroke itself, as well as cardiovascular disease, tobacco use cessation poses a multitude of benefits.
  • Regular physical activity- Not only reduces your chances of having a stroke, but is also shown to improve learning & memory, boost other mental skills and also increase your lifespan.
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)- Keeping your BMI in the normal range reduces your risk of stroke directly, as well as indirectly by reducing risk of cardiac disease.
  • Avoiding excess alcohol consumption
  • Keeping stress levels in check

Knowing what measures to take if a stroke does occur is just as essential as knowing preventive measures.

Although stroke is a sudden-onset event, there are certain warning signs to watch for in a person who might be having a stroke. These can be summarised as follows-

Balance- Sudden loss of balance and/or fall to the ground

Eyes- Blurry vision, usually accompanied by headache

Face- Sudden weakness of muscle of the face

Arms & legs- Sudden weakness of muscles, inability to move one or more limbs

Speech- Incoherence, confusion or loss of speech

Time- A crucial factor when it comes to stroke, can be life-saving if recognised and

treated in time

Remember to 'BE FAST' if you notice/ are in the company of someone having a stroke.