Due to modern lifestyle, many people are becoming victims of mini heart strokes, says a recent survey..

Picture this..You are watching an Alfred Hitchcock flick, and suddenly, you are unable to understand the dialogues. You start feeling uncomfortable, a sudden sense of numbness runs through your body, and you feel dizzy, and tend to lose your control and co-ordination. Many might ignore it as an after effect of a spooky film, but very often they can be symptoms of a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or more commonly ‘mini strokes’).
A recent survey by Gallup, a data-related news provider, reveals that 97 per cent of adults over the age of 50 fail to recognise the warning signs of a stroke, and in recent times, this has fueled the number of strokes-related deaths. Knowing the symptoms of a stroke becomes vital for patients, as there is a time factor associated with it. Experts say that treatment usually has to begin within 60 minutes of a stroke to prevent the death of the brain cells, which are significant enough to cause paralysis.
However, they also added that symptoms can begin anywhere from a few minutes to days before the stroke, making it very difficult for the patient as well as his peers to spot them.
Says Dr Vikram Kumar, neurologist, Metro Hospital, "Strokes have a wide variety of symptoms, making it difficult for patients, and at times doctors, to recognise them. I think there should organise awareness campaigns, as they can often mislead patients, and can be hazardous to health."
Stressing on the time factor associated with strokes, Dr Kumar says, "The most important thing is to get the patient medical treatment within an hour after spotting the symptoms. They should be immediately treated with a clot dissolving drug or Thrombolysis."
According to the data provided by the Global Burden of Diseases (GBD), India experiences 6,19,000 stroke-related deaths in a year, suggesting a mortality ratio of 73 per 1,00,00 persons.
Experts opines that with rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, the older generation is increasingly getting exposed to the risk factors of stroke — diabetes, obesity, tobacco use, high blood pressure, and hence are falling prey to strokes, giving it a shape of an epidemic.
Doctors also add that the risk of having a stroke is directly proportional to one’s eating habits, as consumption of high-energy food with little dietary fibre (indigestible parts of a plant food) and micronutrients can lead to strokes.
Opines neurologist Dr Bhasir A. Ahmedi, "It is true that due to modern lifestyle, more and more people are falling prey to diseases such as strokes. Due to hectic schedules, people hardly get time to enquire about the nutrient value of the food they take, which is very important to curb strokes, and other such health hazards."

What are the warning signs of stroke?

Know that not everyone gets all of the following warning signs. And, sometimes these signs can go away and return. Treatments are most effective if given within one hour of when the attack begins. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 right away!

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
  • Blurred or double vision, drowsiness, and nausea or vomiting.
What is a stroke?

A stroke is the sudden loss of brain function caused by the interuption of blood flow to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. This interuption of blood flow or the rupture of blood vessels causes the brain cells in the affected area to die. Your brain needs the oxygen and nutrients supplied by the blood to keep your body and systems functioning properly.

What is a "mini-stroke" or TIA?

A "mini-stroke" refers to a transient ischemic attack (TIA). In a TIA, there is a short-term reduction in blood flow to the brain. This causes temporary stroke symptoms (often just for a few minutes) such as weakness or tingling in an arm or leg.
TIAs don't cause brain damage, but they are important warning signs that a person is at risk of having a stroke. If you have a TIA, you should seek medical care right away to prevent a full stroke.

Hemorrhagic Stroke : the most common type of stroke 

In a healthy, functioning brain, neurons do not come into direct contact with blood. The vital oxygen and nutrients the neurons need from the blood come to the neurons across the thin walls of the cerebral capillaries. The glia (nervous system cells that support and protect neurons) form a blood-brain barrier, an elaborate meshwork that surrounds blood vessels and capillaries and regulates which elements of the blood can pass through to the neurons.
When an artery in the brain bursts, blood spews out into the surrounding tissue and upsets not only the blood supply but the delicate chemical balance neurons require to function. This is called a hemorrhagic stroke. Such strokes account for approximately 20 percent of all strokes.
Hemorrhage can occur in several ways. One common cause is a bleeding aneurysm, a weak or thin spot on an artery wall. Over time, these weak spots stretch or balloon out under high arterial pressure. The thin walls of these ballooning aneurysms can rupture and spill blood into the space surrounding brain cells.

Hemorrhage also occurs when arterial walls break open. Plaque-encrusted artery walls eventually lose their elasticity and become brittle and thin, prone to cracking. Hypertension, or high blood pressure , increases the risk that a brittle artery wall will give way and release blood into the surrounding brain tissue.

A person with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) also has an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke. AVMs are a tangle of defective blood vessels and capillaries within the brain that have thin walls and can therefore rupture.

Bleeding from ruptured brain arteries can either go into the substance of the brain or into the various spaces surrounding the brain. Intracerebral hemorrhage occurs when a vessel within the brain leaks blood into the brain itself. Subarachnoid hemorrhage is bleeding under the meninges, or outer membranes, of the brain into the thin fluid-filled space that surrounds the brain.

The subarachnoid space separates the arachnoid membrane from the underlying pia mater membrane. It contains a clear fluid (cerebrospinal fluid or CSF) as well as the small blood vessels that supply the outer surface of the brain. In a subarachnoid hemorrhage, one of the small arteries within the subarachnoid space bursts, flooding the area with blood and contaminating the cerebrospinal fluid. Since the CSF flows throughout the cranium, within the spaces of the brain, subarachnoid hemorrhage can lead to extensive damage throughout the brain. In fact, subarachnoid hemorrhage is the most deadly of all strokes.

Healthy steps to prevent a stroke

The more stroke risk factors you have, the greater the chance that you will have a stroke. You can't control some risk factors, such as aging, family health history, race and gender. But you can change or treat most other risk factors to lower your risk.
Here are some healthy ways to prevent stroke:
  • Eat a healthy diet low in saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Don't overeat, and keep your weight under control.
  • Get regular exercise (30 minutes a day, most days of the week, or more).
  • Find ways to manage stress in your life.
  • If you have high blood pressure, take your blood pressure medicine as prescribed by your health care provider.
  • If your cholesterol level is too high, talk to your health care provider about ways to lower it.
  • If you smoke, stop smoking. If it is hard to quit on your own, there are products like nicotine patches, support groups, and programs to help you stop smoking.
  • If you have heart disease or diabetes, take good care of yourself. See your health care provider and take your medicine as prescribed.
  • Get help if you have a TIA ("mini-stroke"). Talk to your health care provider to see if you need medicine or surgery.
  • Aspirin therapy may be useful, but check with your health care provider before starting to take aspirin on a daily basis.