Every hour, on average, 1 person in Singapore suffers a stroke.
Although the risk increases with age, strokes can, and do, occur at any age. A third of all stroke cases occur in people younger than 65 years old.
When a stroke happens, the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain is cut off. Needless to say, a stroke, being a leading cause of serious long term disability, is a nightmare for many patients and their families.
Signs of a stroke
It is helpful to recognise the signs of a stroke in order to take action quickly.
- Weakness or numbness on one side of the arm or leg
- Slurred or garbled speech
- A droop or uneven smile on the face
- Sudden confusion or difficulty understanding speech
- Sudden dizziness or lack of coordination
If a person is experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, they must go immediately to the nearest hospital A&E department.
Treating a stroke
Accurate diagnosis and rapid treatment are critical in managing a stroke. Rushing the patient to the hospital A&E for an immediate evaluation is the first step, as treatment is time-sensitive and every minute counts.
As soon as a doctor has confirmed that the patient is suffering from a stroke, and the brain scan shows no bleeding, a clot-busting agent may be given to the patient. This medication should be administered within 3 hours from the onset of stroke symptoms.
Some patients may be required to undergo an interventional procedure to have the culprit clot retrieved from a blocked artery in the brain.
Prevention – know the risk factors
Prevention is better than cure – especially in the case of a stroke. Yet, not many people know the necessary precautions to prevent stroke. For example, few are aware that irregular heartbeat increases the risk of stroke by 5 times. Even fewer are taking the correct blood thinner to prevent clot-formation caused during irregular heartbeat.
So how can we do better to prevent stroke?
Know the risk factors for stroke. A person is at a higher risk of stroke if they:
- Have high blood pressure
- Have diabetes
- Have elevated cholesterol levels
- Have heart disease
- Have irregular heartbeat
- Are less physically active
- Consume excessive alcohol
The best way to prevent stroke is by reducing your risk factors:
- Bring your blood pressure under control
- Quit smoking
- Take the right blood thinner to manage irregular heartbeat
- Exercise regularly to reduce weight and blood sugar levels