Stroke second biggest killer

By Paulina Ndalikokule

A STROKE is a medical condition in which poor blood flow to the brain results in cell death. This is often due to lack of oxygen when the blood flow to the brain is reduced by blockage or rupture of an artery to the brain, and is also a leading cause of dementia and depression.

The medical advisor and consultant of OHS & medical projects, Fabian Martens, explained there are two main types of stroke, which are ischemic and hemorrhagic.  Ischemic stroke is caused due to lack of blood flow while hemorrhagic is due to bleeding, but both result in parts of the brain not functioning properly.

People at risk for stroke include those who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and those who smoke and those with heart rhythm disturbances, especially atrial fibrillation, among others.

Stroke is diagnosed by the patient’s symptoms, history, and blood and imaging tests.

Martens said a stroke is treated as medical emergency and quick intervention may increase a person’s chance of survival and reduce the risk of long-term disability. “Each year, over 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke – that’s about one every 40 seconds,” Martens said.

He said understanding what to do when someone suffers a stroke can make a significant difference to their chances of survival or recovery. When dealing with a person on first aid it is important to remain calm while ensuring the surrounding area is safe and that there is no imminent danger, such as from moving vehicles, he added.

“Talk to the person. Ask them their name and other questions. If the individual is unable to speak, ask them to squeeze your hand in response to questions. If the person does not respond, they are likely unconscious.”

He added that if such person is conscious, gently place them in a comfortable position. Ideally, they should be lying on their side with their head and shoulders slightly raised and supported with a pillow or item of clothing.

“After this, try not to move them. Loosen any tight clothing, such as buttoned-up shirt collars or scarves. If they are cold, use a blanket or coat to keep them warm,” Martens said. “Get to a hospital immediately, avoid waiting to see if your stroke symptoms get better. The faster you can get to the hospital, the better.”

Certain types of strokes can be treated only in the first few hours, and untreated strokes can lead to permanent damage. In case of an emergency, call for an emergency ambulance rather than driving yourself to hospital, go to an urgent care clinic or ask a family member or friend to drive you.