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Understanding Stroke

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22 Aug, 2018

Strokes are the leading cause of death and disability in the entire world. Cases of Strokes require emergency hospitalization. According to WHO 2012, 6.7 million people die every year from strokes. Highest death incidences due to strokes are seen in low and middle-income countries where 48% of the deaths are noted in people below the age of 70 years. Men suffer from strokes more than women.

In India, there are poor medical facilities and a lack of knowledge about stroke especially in the rural areas, the exact number of people affected by stroke is not known. The prevalence of strokes in India in 2007 is 90-222 per 100000 cases, claiming 102,620 deaths in that year. According to WHO, there are incidences of 14.4-16.4 lacs cases of acute strokes each year in India. 12 % of strokes happen in the people of age below 40 years.


Strokes sometimes referred to as the attacks of the brain caused by the blockage in blood supply to the brain. The brain cells do not get enough oxygen and other nutrients to function and begin to die. The damage happened can result in loss of memory and muscle control. The resultant symptoms depend on the area of the brain affected and the intensity of damage caused. 

According to WHO, stroke is defined as ‘the rapid development of clinical signs and symptoms of a focal neurological disturbance lasting more than 24 hours or leading to death with no apparent cause other than vascular origin’ (WHO 2005).  The stroke is divided into following types-

  1. Ischemic stroke- a clot in the flow of blood to the brain can result in stroke, this type is named as an ischemic stroke.
  2. Hemorrhagic stroke- cerebral blood vessel get ruptured thereby disrupting blood flow to the brain, and it is given the term hemorrhagic stroke.
  3. Transient ischemic attack- TIA is caused by a temporary presence of a clot in the blood vessel of the brain.


The symptoms of the stroke can be

  • A sudden Headache alternating with vomiting or consciousness variations
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Confusion of mind
  • The patient cannot move the face, arm, or leg in any particular side
  • Sudden Vision ailments in any of two or both the eyes.
  •  The patient cannot walk properly and cannot coordinate his steps suddenly.
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Disturbed bowel movements
  • Involuntary urination
  • Pain in the extremities
  • Paralysis of either or both sides of the body



After performing your physical exam like checking your blood pressure, carotid arteries in neck etc., your doctor may advise you the following tests and more if required depending on your condition -

  • Blood tests- to detect the time taken and the reason behind the clot formation
  • CT scan- to detect hemorrhages, tumors and other conditions related to the brain
  • MRI scan- to get the image of the brain and brain structures to assess the damage
  • Cerebral angiogram – to get a view of blood vessels and the brain.
  • Carotid ultrasound- to check the flow of the blood in the carotid artery
  • Echocardiogram- to get a detailed image of the heart in order to view any clot from the heart has moved to the brain.



Stroke patients require immediate hospitalization. The treatment depends on the type of the stroke. Patient with ischemic stroke needs mechanical removal of the clot within 6 to 24 hours from their large blood vessels of the brain. Other anticlotting medicines and other are given according to the cause of the stroke. Most stroke survivors can develop disabilities in the limbs.

Prevention of stroke can be achieved in 80% of the cases, living a healthy lifestyle with intake of healthy food, regular exercise and cessation of smoking and/or alcohol can prevent Stroke in the long-term