Stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is either reduced or stopped, or if the blood vessel supplying oxygen and glucose to the brain tissue gets damaged resulting in brain tissue’s death. Compromised blood supply to brain for more than three minutes may lead to death of tissue in that particular area of brain and may cause disability or even death. Sometimes the underlying medical conditions increase the risk of stroke. Keeping such risk factors under control and making necessary changes in diet and lifestyle, one can prevent a stroke.
Common risk factors for stroke are:
- High BP(greater than 140/90 mm hg)
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High total cholesterol (greater than 200 units)
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm)
- Circulation problems such as carotid and /or coronary artery disease
- Family history of heart disease
- Sedentary life.
People with diabetes are two to four times more susceptible to have stroke than people without diabetes and are also more prone to develop other heart and kidney diseases. Diabetes is a condition characterised by Hyperglycaemia i.e. increased blood sugar levels. The Fasting normal blood sugar levels are 90-110 mg/dl of blood and the Postprandial count (blood sugar levels taken two hours after meals) should be less than 140 mg/dl. Pancreas in the body is responsible for production of hormone Insulin, it is Insulin with the help of which glucose enters cells and provides energy. In Diabetes, the pancreas fail to produce insulin in the right amounts due to which the cells do not receive enough glucose whereas the sugar levels in the blood increases. Over time, this increased blood sugar level increases the tendency of blood to form fatty deposits or clots on the inside of the blood vessel’s walls which leads to Atherosclerosis of blood vessels of the neck and brain, thus directly increases the chance of stroke.
Two common types of stroke:
- Ischemic stroke: It is estimated that 80% of all strokes are Ischemic strokes. It occurs when the artery supplying oxygen rich blood to the brain is blocked either due to presence of clot or fat deposits on the inside of vessel. It can be further divided into two types:
- Thrombotic stroke
- Embolic stroke.
- Haemorrhagic stroke: It occurs when blood vessel ruptures inside brain causing increased intracranial pressure (increased blood pressure inside skull), responsible for damaging cells and tissues in the brain.
The best way to prevent a stroke is to control the risk factors and adapting a healthy lifestyle by maintaining a healthy blood pressure, blood sugar levels, blood cholesterol levels and keeping the weight under control. If it occurs even after prevention and mild stroke occurs then mild stroke treatment involves:
- Medication with Antiplatelet and anticoagulant drugs such as Aspirin and Warfarin are given intravenously in the first 3-4 hours (after onset of symptoms), that acts as clot dissolving agents to improve the blood flow to the brain.
- If the medication alone doesn’t improve the condition then surgical intervention for Carotid Angioplasty and Stenting may be required for clearing the carotid artery of any fatty deposits and plaques.