Sunday, July 14, 2024
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“PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE’’ DOES THIS HOLD IN STROKE OR BRAIN ATTACK?

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Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability. It is a well-known medical condition where the blood supply to the brain is interrupted either due to blocked blood vessels (ischemia) or bleeding within the brain due to ruptured blood vessels (hemorrhagic), which can mainly be attributed to an unexpected rise in blood pressure. This  further results in the death of brain tissue due to inadequate supply of oxygen. During these episodes, some areas of the brain stops functioning, presenting symptoms like sudden weakness or numbness, especially on one side of the body, face drooping, sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, dizziness; and sudden trouble seeing with one or both eyes. Certain risk factors that can increase the risk of stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, smoking, alcohol, and obesity. The treatment of stroke patients is time-bound, especially in ischemia, where the blood vessel gets blocked. One needs to report to the hospital within four and a half hours to receive the active treatment for stroke. This period is called ‘’the golden period”, giving rise to the slogan “time is brain”. The rest of the stroke treatment basically prevents further complications and promotes early rehabilitation.

The present hospital-based stroke registry and ongoing research at NEIGRIHMS, Shillong, wakes the state up to certain facts about stroke. More than four hundred stroke patients on an average report to our hospital annually from North East India, among which around 30% belong to the most productive age group of society, i.e., 18 to 50 years of age. Such a high percentage impacts the socio-economic status of our state and country. The study also notes that most of our local patients fail to report to the hospital within the golden period time-frame, probably due to lack of awareness, financial constraints, socio-cultural beliefs, distance, especially for patients residing in rural areas, road and traffic-related issues. Further, it was also noted that most of these patients who landed up with stroke were either known cases of hypertension, diabetes with irregular medication or either newly detected cases of hypertension, diabetes as they never underwent regular health check-ups.

As stroke continues to be the second leading cause of death which can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death, it raises the need to increase awareness of stroke among the people of Meghalaya by being able to recognise the symptoms, act soon, and immediately report to a well-equipped medical center within the golden period time frame. Although certain risk factors for stroke, like family history, genetics, age are beyond control, one may certainly have control over other risk factors by simply modifying their lifestyle choices. Citizens are highly encouraged to get their blood pressure checked regularly, as hypertension is the leading cause of stroke. If found to have high blood pressure, lowering one’s blood pressure through regular medication and some lifestyle changes can lower the risk for stroke. Managing diabetes and high cholesterol with lifestyle changes, such as exercise and diet changes, can help reduce the risk of stroke. Some people may also need medications to keep their blood sugar in check. Consuming tobacco, smoking, and alcohol consumption can also raise blood pressure levels and the risk for stroke. Additionally, it is important to note that once a stroke patient recovers, there is an ardent need to understand that certain medications are for a lifetime, or else there is a chance of a repeat stroke. Lastly, as the old-age proverb prevails, “Prevention is better than cure”, the best way to help prevent a stroke is to undergo regular time to time health check-ups, maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, avoid smoking and alcohol. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from a stroke is to manage and control the modifiable risk factors.

Collaborative effort by Dr. Baiakmenlang Synmon (Associate Professor, Neurology Dept.), Nasheman Khongthaw (Research Scientist-1), Banlamlynti Khongbuh and Pynjanai l. Thongni (Project Technical Support-1)

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