Health News of 2013-12-13

Stroke – it can shock your brain!

A stroke is an “attack’ on the brain and occurs when one bleeds into his brain or blood flow to the brain is blocked. It is a medical emergency and even in places with the best of medical care, it is a leading cause of death. A stroke is one of those conditions that leave footprints forever – a real life-changing condition that is better prevented than managed. If you have already had a stroke, do not despair because together we can master basic information that will improve our lives. It appears that most strokes occur in underdeveloped or developing countries where specialized stroke care is unavailable. In a few “fortunate” areas, a building and some equipment may be present but skilled workers and quick access to these facilities is often as elusive as the Golden Fleece. Why do I consider this condition life-changing? Even in situations where people recover fully, the emotional toll on the victim and his family and friends cannot be taken for granted. If we consider the financial implications as well as the time that needs to be invested in care then we can paint a vague picture of the devastation that a stroke can leave in its trail. Types of Stroke The loss of blood flow to brain cells leads to death of these cells within minutes and two types of major stroke have been described: • Ischaemic Stroke o The majority (90%) of strokes belong to this group. This develops when a blood clot blocks an artery in the brain depriving brain cells of oxygen-rich blood. o 30% of survivors of an initial ischaemic stroke have another stroke within five (5) years and 18% of subsequent strokes are fatal. • Haemorrhagic Stroke o Occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or bursts and may cause blood to spill into brain tissue. o This may be associated with a horrible headache and even collapse. Other conditions such as a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) have been described where there is a brief interruption of blood flow to the brain. Any loss of function is recovered within 24hours BUT this is often a warning sign of greater things to happen. We should not discard this “sign” but rather talk to your doctor and take the appropriate measures. Who Gets Strokes Some strokes may occur for no apparent reason but most people may have one or more of the following risk factors: • Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure • Heart Disease • Diabetes • Smoking • Lack of Exercise • Obesity • Abnormal Cholesterol Levels • Drug Abuse • Previous Stroke Recently lack of adequate sleep is being linked to strokes and some families have been found to be more prone. You cannot change your family but you can reduce your risk by controlling all other risk factors. Why wait for more concrete evidence on sleep? That extra snooze will rather give you more benefits. Identify a Stroke FAST Time is of essence when it comes to getting help for a stroke victim. Don’t play doctor and “wait and see”, get help immediately. Mastering the following steps may come in handy: 1. Face a. Ask the person to smile and if one side droops, it may suggest a stroke 2. Arm a. Ask the person to hold out both arms in front of the body. If one arm droops or is unable to be lifted it may be a positive sign 3. Speech a. If the victim’s speech is slurred or mixes up words when repeating a simple sentence there is no need to wait any longer. 4. Time a. If any of these warning signs are present get help from the nearest hospital. A stroke may also present as tingling, numbness or a loss of feeling in the face, arm or leg especially on one side of the body. There may also be weakness or an inability to move certain parts of the body. Loss of vision especially in one eye has also been described. Some stroke victims may have trouble understanding spoken words or speaking clearly. In certain cases the overriding symptoms/signs may be dizziness, lack of coordination or a loss of balance. Post Stroke Rehabilitation After a stroke you may be left with various degrees of impairments and it’s important that the following steps are taken to restore as much function as possible. 1. Physiotherapy a. This helps to retrain the brain and the body as well as reduce contractures. If your right hand was affected don’t fall on the left only, learn to reuse your right hand. 2. Speech therapy a. Very important to improve speech and swallowing but may not be easily available in many areas but give it a try. DO NOT GIVE UP! 3. Psychological Support/Counselling a. Do not take the emotional impact for granted. The victim and all those close to him/her need professional help to cope, otherwise stress and depression may quickly set in. 4. Nursing Care a. This is crucial in preventing bed sores and infections 5. Good Nutrition and Regular and Appropriate Exercises 6. Medication a. This helps to manage the condition, prevent another stroke while ensuring that other complications do not set in. 7. Other Support structures a. Movement is extremely important and we may need to retrain to prevent falls. When necessary use a walker to build confidence initially. Prevention Still Reigns Supreme 1. Control your Blood Pressure 2. Control Diabetes 3. Manage your Cholesterol levels 4. Stop Smoking and minimize Alcohol 5. Eat Right – lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains while cutting back on sugar, salt and oil 6. Exercise regularly 7. Control your Weight 8. If on medication for any condition please take as prescribed 9. Reduce Stress While you are at it remember to get adequate SLEEP, and on a lighter note next time you are returning to mother Earth make sure you pick a family with the right genes. The world can STRIKE back at STROKE by reducing the risk factors that can be modified and the others? Relax and leave that to God, there is more than enough stress already. AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI) Source: Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel (Moms Health Club/Premier Mutual Health) *Dr Essel is a medical doctor and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition. References: • The ten commandments for a healthy and enjoyable life – Dr Kojo Essel • Primed Patient Education Centre • www.webmd.com • www.mayoclinic.com