Stroke was the second leading cause of death worldwide in 2019, accounting for 11% of deaths. Strokes can be classified into three categories. Ischemic stroke is the first and most common type, accounting for 87 percent of all cases.
It occurs when blood flow to the brain’s oxygen-supplying artery becomes blocked.
The second type of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when an artery in the brain ruptures, causing damage to the surrounding tissues.
“A transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a “ministroke,” is the third type of stroke. It occurs when blood flow to the brain is temporarily blocked, usually for no more than 5 minutes,” says Dr. Mohana Rao, who provides an excellent stroke and cerebrovascular treatment.
Dr. Mohana Rao Patibandla, the Founder of Dr. Rao’s Hospital, a neurosurgeon and interventional neuro specialist of excellence, was contacted to help us dispel myths about the topic and improve our understanding.
He is well-versed in all aspects of neuroscience and excels in functional neurosurgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, and brain tumors, among other areas.
Stroke is a condition that affects the heart. Although cardiovascular risk factors are linked to stroke risk, strokes occur in the brain, not the heart.
According to Dr. Rao, some people believe that a stroke is a heart problem, which is wrong.
A stroke is a brain problem caused by a stoppage or fracture of veins or arteries in the brain rather than the heart.”
Some people confuse a stroke with a heart attack, which occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked rather than the brain.
Stroke cannot be avoided.
According to Dr. Mohana Rao, an expert neurosurgeon from Andhra Pradesh, the following are among the most common risk factors for stroke:
- High cholesterol
- Head or neck trauma
- Cardiac arrhythmias
Many of these risk factors are modifiable by changing one’s lifestyle.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help to lower risk factors like:
- High cholesterol
Consumption of alcoholic beverages and stress are two other risk factors. Striking risk can be reduced by reducing or eliminating these lifestyle factors.
Stroke is not a disease that runs in families. Single-gene disorders, such as sickle cell disease, raise the risk of a stroke.
Stroke risk may be indirectly increased by genetic factors such as:
- A higher risk of high blood pressure
- Other cardiovascular risk factors.
Because families share environments and lifestyles, unhealthy lifestyle factors raise the risk of stroke among family members, especially when combined with genetic risk factors. [READ: Build Your Healthy Lifestyle Routines Today with These Top Tips]
Stroke symptoms can be challenging to spot. The most common stroke symptoms are abbreviated as “FAST”:
- F: When one side of the face becomes numb and produces an uneven “smile,” this is referred to as face dropping.
- A: arm weakness occurs when one arm gets feeble or numbed and slowly descends when raised.
- S: slurred speech or speech difficulty
- T: time to call for emergency
Other stroke symptoms include:
- Confusion and trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, leg, or one side of the body
- Difficulty walking, including dizziness, loss of balance and coordination
- Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
- Severe headaches for no apparent reason
Strokes are incurable.
“There is an erroneous belief that strokes are irreversible and untreatable,” Dr. Rao, one of Andhra Pradesh’s best neurosurgeons, explained.
“In many patients needing emergency treatment of a stroke, the following can reverse the symptoms of a stroke, especially if they arrive at the hospital early enough for the therapy (within minutes or hours of the onset of the symptoms),” he said:
- A clot-busting drug injection
- Minimally invasive mechanical thrombectomy for clot removal
“The longer the symptoms last, the less likely a positive outcome is.”
As a result, as soon as stroke symptoms appear — such as:
- Difficulty speaking
- Double vision
An ambulance should be summoned for transport to the nearest hospital,” he continued.
According to research, those who arrive within three hours of the onset of symptoms have less disability three months later than those who come later.
Only the elderly suffer from strokes. A significant risk factor for stroke is age.
After the age of 55, the risk of stroke doubles every ten years. Strokes, on the other hand, can strike at any age.
According to a study of healthcare data, Thirty-four percent of stroke hospitalizations in 2009 occurred in people under the age of sixty-five.
According to a study published in 2013, “approximately fifteen percent of all ischemic strokes appear in young grown-ups and adolescents.”
According to Dr. Mohana Rao, the following were among the most common co-existing conditions among this age group:
- Lipid disorders
- Tobacco use
Symptoms are present in all strokes. Not all strokes cause symptoms, and some studies suggest that symptomless strokes are far more common than those that do.
According to one study, 770,000 of them over 11 million strokes in 1998 had symptoms, while nearly 11 million were silent.
Following a blockage or ruptured blood vessel, proof of these so-called quiet strokes occurs on MRI scans as white dots from scarred tissue.
MRI scans for headaches, cognitive issues, and dizziness are frequently used to detect silent strokes.
Although they don’t cause symptoms, they should be treated the same as for strokes that do.
People who have silent strokes are at risk for symptomatic strokes, cognitive decline, and dementia in the future.
A ministroke is not so risky.
“The term ministroke has been misused because some people believe it refers to minor strokes with low risk,” Dr. Rao, a fantastic neurosurgeon from Ahmedabad, explained.
“A ministroke is a transient ischemic attack (TIA), not a ministroke,” says the doctor.
“It’s not a small stroke; it’s a possibility of a large stroke.” Any symptom of acute stroke, whether transient or persistent, necessitates immediate evaluation and treatment to avoid a potentially fatal large stroke,” he added.
Paralysis is always the result of a stroke.
Although stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability, not everyone who has one experiences paralysis or weakness.
According to research, stroke reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors aged 65 and up.
The long-term effects of stroke, on the other hand, depend on several factors, including the amount of brain tissue affected and the area affected. For example, damage to the left brain will affect the right side of the body and vice versa.
If the stroke occurs on the left side of the brain, it can cause:
- Paralysis on the right side of the body
- Speech and language difficulties.
- Memory loss
- Slow and cautious behavior.
If the right side of the brain is affected, paralysis on the left side of the body may occur. Other possible outcomes include:
- Vision issues
- Quick and curious behavior
- Memory loss
Stroke recovery occurs. Many people, however, may never fully recover. It can take months, if not years, to fully recover from a stroke. According to Dr. Mohana Rao, stroke survivors include:
- 10% of the population will make a near-complete recovery.
- Another 10% will need to be cared for in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.
- With minor impairments, 25% of people will recover.
- 40% will be affected in some way, from mild to severe.
According to research, there is a critical time window between 2 and 3 months after a stroke when intensive motor rehabilitation is more likely to recover.
Some people may be able to recover on their own during this time.
Improvements are still possible beyond this window and the 6-month mark, though they will most likely be much slower.