Why is it important to act fast if someone is having a stroke?

Stroke is a medical emergency. Every minute counts when someone is having a stroke. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage. Immediate treatment can save people’s lives and enhance their chances for successful recovery.

Ischemic strokes, the most common type of strokes, can be treated with a drug called t-PA that dissolves blood clots obstructing blood flow to the brain. The window of opportunity to start treating stroke patients is three hours, but to be evaluated and receive treatment, patients need to get to the hospital within 60 minutes.

A five-year study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences or NIMHANS found that some stroke patients who received t-PA within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms were at least 30 percent more likely to recover with little or no disability after three months.

Don't wait for the symptoms of stroke to improve or worsen. If you believe you or someone else is having a stroke, call the doctor immediately! Making the decision to call for medical help can make the difference in avoiding a lifelong disability and in greatly improving the chances for recovery.

What causes a stroke ?

Most strokes occur in the second half of life and are caused by damage to the blood vessels - and sometimes to the heart - which has been building up slowly for many years. The actual stroke takes place either when a blood clot forms in a damaged vessel and blocks the flow of blood to part of the brain, or when a damaged blood vessel in the brain bursts and blood pours from the brain itself.

In at least half of all strokes the reason why the blood vessels become damaged in the first place is because they have been exposed to high blood pressure. If in addition the patient smokes, drinks heavily, is overweight, takes too much salt in his diet, or has heart disease or diabetes the risk of stroke is increased. A number of other factors are suspected, but there is no single cause of stroke.

Unfortunately anyone can suffer a stroke at any time, although the risks can be substantially reduced by a healthy lifestyle, including the avoidance of smoking, and especially by having blood pressure checked and if it is too high, ensuring that it is kept under control by treatment.

Is stroke preventable?

Yes. Stroke is preventable. A better understanding of the causes of stroke has helped people make lifestyle changes that have cut the stroke death rate nearly in half in the last two decades.

While family history of stroke plays a role in your risk, there are many risk factors you can control:

  • If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to get it under control. Managing your high blood pressure is the most important thing you can do to avoid stroke.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • If you have diabetes, learn how to manage it. Many people do not realize they have diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • If you are overweight, start maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
  • If you have high cholesterol, work with your doctor to lower it. A high level of total cholesterol in the blood is a major risk factor for heart disease, which raises your risk of stroke.

Is the heart effected by stroke

No. The stroke itself has no effect on the heart, but patients who suffer a stroke may have had heart disease already, which they may or may not have known about before the stroke.

How is vision affected

In most cases vision is not affected at all, and even in those patients who complain of visual difficulty the fault is not in the eyesight itself, but in the interpretation by the brain of what the eye sees. In normal people, the two sides of the brain each form a separate picture of half of what lies before it, and the two pictures are joined together, as it were, to give a total view. When part of the brain forming one of those half pictures is damaged by a stroke the patient sees only one half of the world depending on which half of the brain is affected. This can be perplexing for the patient and relatives, and is very disabling, but recovery, although slow, usually occurs.

What is CT scan

The most commonly used imaging procedure is the computed tomography or CT scan, also known as a “CAT” scan. A CT scan is comprised of a series of cross-sectional images of the head and brain. Because it is readily available at all hours at most major hospitals, produces images quickly, and is good for ruling out hemorrhage prior to starting thrombolytic therapy, CT is the most widely used diagnostic imaging technique for acute stroke.

Is stroke due to overwork or stress ?

No. Almost everyone who has ever had a stroke could be said to have been under stress or to have been overworking at some time before the onset of the stroke. So could almost anyone who has not had a stroke. It is natural to think of stroke and stress as being related -they even sound alike- but this is not so, and indeed many strokes occur during sleep. However, there is a relationship between stress and high blood pressure. It is almost impossible to take the stress out of life, but it is possible to reduce high blood pressure.

Is the brain affected by stroke ?

Yes. A stroke is to the brain what a coronary thrombosis is to the heart, and the brain is always damaged in a stroke, just as the heart is always damaged in a coronary. All the symptoms of a stroke are due to brain damage. But this does necessarily mean that patients with a stroke lose their 'brains' in the ordinary sense of the word. If the brain damage is very extensive or affects special areas there may be impairment of memory, concentration and learning ability or some confusion of thought. Control of the bladder and bowels may be lost. Patients may be slower to grasp new ideas and relatives have to learn to make allowances for these changes. Some patients are vague or unrealistic, or have impaired judgement in their assessment of their own capabilities or in their relationships with other people. But in most cases, even when paralysis is severe, there is no discernible effect on the intellect and memory, and the patient's 'brain power' is as good as ever.

Do I really need therapy?  I can usually handle my problems. 

 This helps the patients in not only self reflection, but also encourages self reliance outside my chamber. And, this is what seeds the root of self-confidence as well. The painful emotional beliefs and reservations that restrict the individuals when the person starts to accept the reality, and let go of the past. I believe that the patient and the psychologist can work together to find a problem, and I practically and actively approach that metht

What are the risks of a second stroke

Life is a risky business, and if we think about risks the whole time we will never cross the road or go up in an aeroplane. While there is no good reason for assuming that one stroke will automatically be followed by others, the conditions which have caused the first - namely, weakness of an artery wall or blood-clotting - can sometimes not be reversed, and the risk persists, but it can be lessened if the patient does not smoke, is not overweight, does not take too much salt in his diet and, most important of all, has his blood pressure checked regularly and if it is too high, keeps it under control by treatment.

How is the speech affected

Speech is affected in two ways. In some patients it is slurred and indistinct or even completely absent, but the patient can read, write and understand perfectly what is said. This condition is called dysarthria, and it usually yields to treatment.

The other condition is much more complex. It is called dysphasia or aphasia and is due to damage to the part of the brain which controls all language processes. This can affect the patient's ability to speak, understand speech, read and write.

The condition occurs in nearly one half of patients who have paralysis of the right side of the body, but hardly ever occurs in those whose paralysis is on the left side. Some cases are mild, and the patient may only occasionally have difficulty in finding a familiar word. In others, language is painfully slow and halting and patients often give up their attempt to communicate with others. In the worst cases the patient can say nothing at all, or only the same word or phrase over and over again. Sometimes this is a swear word which the patient was not in the habit of using before the stroke, and this may cause great distress to him and his family. In other cases, speech is full of nonsense words and it is impossible to understand the patient's meaning. Recovery from dysphasia can be rapid and complete, but is, in most cases, slow and incomplete, and patients and their relatives need a great deal of help from speech and language therapists and others.

What is the rehabilitation center

There are many ways of treating stroke patients, but the common ingredients of success are the confidence of the patient, the skill of the therapists and the co-operative working of the rehabilitation team.

The most favoured method of treatment is based on treating the whole body, indeed the whole patient, and not just the affected arm or leg. A lot of time is spent at the outset in obtaining a correct position of the body and of the limbs while the patient is in bed or in a chair. Each time the patient is moved, whether this is to turn him in bed or to transfer him out of bed on to a chair or a commode, or any other movement, it has to be done according to a carefully worked out pattern, and the limbs must always be placed in the correct position. Walking practice is delayed until the patient has acquired good posture and balance.

This method takes more time and effort than the older methods which depended on getting the patient walking as soon as possible, but the final results appear to be better. Relatives must expect a severely affected patient to take anything from one to six months to regain skill, confidence and security in walking after a severe stroke.

What can the relatives or friends do help

While the patient is in hospital relatives should keep in close contact with the staff. Most hospitals welcome the participation of relatives in therapy sessions and, before discharging a patient, may arrange for them to return to their home on short visits to test their ability to care for themselves in their family environment. No matter how good the education of relatives has been in hospital unexpected problems may arise when the patient comes home and further guidance will then be needed.

Living with a recovering stroke patient is a great test of personal qualities, and constant patience and understanding are required. Patients are bound to experience moments of depression and despair and at such times the tactful encouragement and patience of the relatives are most required. Encouragement must always stop well short of pressure. Relatives have to recognise that patients sometimes need a holiday from their stroke and ceaseless enthusiastic encouragement can be fatiguing.

How yoga helps?

Yoga can help prevent cardiac episodes. Yoga also has proven benefits for those who have faced cardiac arrest, heart attack or other heart event. Combined with Yoga Nutrition, it can totally reverse heart disease, as has been demonstrated by the medical uses of raw vegan diet also. The calming benefits of yoga may also help, and you may see benefits right away. After your first yoga class, your blood pressure will likely be lower, you will be relaxed and you will feel better. Long-term, sustained yoga may play a role in improving overall health. After 2-3 months of yoga, you may see a dramatic increase in exercise functionality, and blood pressure and cholesterol levels may decrease.

  • Do a yogic relaxation for at least a few minutes every day. Research suggests it can increase your resiliency to stress—and, by extension, to heart disease.
  • Balance your emotions with a regular yoga practice. Studies suggest that yoga helps diffuse emotions such as anger, hostility, and impatience that are linked to heart attacks.
  • Combat loneliness, another risk factor for heart disease, by becoming part of a community. A recent study suggests that people with spiritual practices who meet regularly in a group live longer and have fewer heart attacks.
  • Offer service (karma yoga) to those less fortunate than yourself—whether that means volunteering in a food pantry, or teaching a free yoga class in a retirement community. According to the yoga tradition, there is no better way to open your heart.