By India Commentary
A “brain attack” is called a stroke. Anyone can be struck by one at any time. It happens when the flow of blood to an area of the brain is cut off. Since blood flow stops, brain cells in that area do not get oxygen and begin to die, which in turn results in loss of abilities controlled by that area of the brain. People who have strokes are affected in different ways depending on the severity of the stroke and the area of the brain that is stricken. Further, the recovery will totally depend on the amount of damage caused to the brain. Starting from a temporary loss of muscle strength in an arm or leg to permanent paralysis in one side of the body to loss of speech, stroke affects people in many ways. Some recover completely but more than 60 percent people retain some sort of disability as a result of their strokes.
But normally, people with family history of strokes, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heavy drinkers, smokers and people who lead a sedentary lifestyle along with those suffering from atrial fibrillation carry a huge risk of being attacked by a stroke. A stroke can be sudden and unexpected but usually, there are enough signs which include weakness on one side of the body, vision loss, severe and unusual headache, numbness of face, unsteady walk and numbness and tingling in the body. The first three hours are extremely vital. Hence if any of these signs appear, medical help must be called for immediately.
There are many ways to prevent a stroke. People with high blood pressure must always keep it under control (135/85 or 140/90 at most) by taking standard precautions like eating just half a teaspoon of salt a day, exercising, quitting smoking and avoiding high ‘bad’ cholesterol food. If on medication, ensure that it is taken timely and monitor your pressure constantly.Obese people just have to lose weight to reduce the risk of a stroke. Eat wisely and limit your calorie intake. Measure your body mass index (BMI) and try to come as close to the recommended BMI for your gender, age and height in consultation with your doctor. Those leading a sedentary lifestyle must stop being couch potatoes and walk or move their muscles in other ways for at least 30 minutes a day and if possible for 45 minutes, at least five days a week. Although drinking in moderation is said to reduce the possibility of a stroke, heavy drinking (anything more than two drinks a day) increases the risk sharply. Smoking leads to the formation of blood clots. Giving up smoking is a sure way to lead a healthy life. Diabetics have to monitor and keep their sugar levels in control as high sugar damages blood cells leading to clot formation. Finally, those with atrial fibrillation (a form of irregular heartbeat that causes clots to form in the heart which can then travel to the brain) must get it treated fast as it carries a five-fold risk of stroke.
Be vigilant for the tell-tale signs described above and do not ignore them at any time. Remember, the first three hours are very vital in treating a stroke. Get medical help immediately.