According to the American Heart Association, stroke was the second leading global cause of death behind heart disease in 2013, accounting for 11.8% of total deaths worldwide. A brain attack can occur at any age and in 2009, 34% of people hospitalized were less than 65 years old. The risk of suffering a stroke is real and these statistics serve as a sobering reminder.
A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is stopped by a blood clot, burst artery or blood vessel. This interruption starves the brain of oxygen which leads to brain damage.
Know the 2 Types of Stroke
- Ischemic stroke is the most common and accounts for about 80% of all stroke cases. This type can occur when a blood clot or piece of debris decreases blood flow to the brain. A narrowing of the blood vessels may also be a cause.
- Hemorrhagic stroke accounts for about 20% of stroke cases. This is where there is bleeding in the brain. The most common causes are high blood pressure and brain aneurysms which is where an area on the wall of an artery balloons and eventually bursts. Left untreated, bleeding in the brain can quickly result in death.
If you believe that you are witnessing a loved one or stranger having a stroke, remember the acronym FAST to know that the signs are requiring immediate help .
- F ace – Ask the person to smile. Is their face drooping down on one side as they smile?
- A rm – Is the person unable to raise both arms up to the same height?
- S peech – Is their speech slurred? Are you unable to understand what they are saying?
- T ime – Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any unusual symptoms.
If you answer any of the above with “yes”, contact an Emergency Center because it is most likely that the person is suffering from a stroke.
Why Time Matters
At the hospital, doctors will rush to take blood samples in order to determine changes in a number of factors such as, CBC, cholesterol levels, diabetic tests and more. They will also quickly perform an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to see how your heart is functioning. A computerized tomography (CT) scan, carotid duplex scan, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will immediately follow in order to identify blood deficiencies, measure blood flow and to see if there is bleeding in the brain.
Timing is critical! Brain cells die each second the brain is starved of oxygen leading to irreversible brain damage and possible handicaps. Therefore, prompt action is critical to dissolve or remove the clot or repair the damage in the brain.
What You can do to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke
There are many ways to reduce your stroke risk. The easiest way is to have an annual health check-up . If any risk factors are found, doctors can take quick action and administer treatment before it is too late. Controlling your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar is imperative to minimize risk and these levels should always remain within a normal range. Exercising regularly and having a well-balanced diet goes a long way towards minimizing your risk of stroke. If you smoke, please consider quitting as soon as possible. If you drink, you should consider minimizing your intake. More information on stroke and stroke prevention can be found on Bumrungrad’s Neuroscience Center website .
Strokes are incredibly dangerous and can strike at any moment. If you are concerned about your risk of stroke or the risk of a loved one, please contact Bumrungrad’s Neuroscience Center which is equipped with the latest diagnostic tools and technology and staffed by more than 25neurologists and neurosurgeons. Synchronizing care with specialists of other departments such as the Emergency Center, Intensive Care Unit or Heart Center at Bumrungrad guarantees the quickest expert response for a patient in need.
If you see someone fail the FAST test, remember that the Bumrungrad International Hospital Emergency Center is available 24-hours a day and can be reached at +66 2011 5222.