22.AUG.2016 3 MIN READ | 3 MIN READ

Every minute counts when it comes to recovering from a stroke. Recognise the warning signs and know what to do when you see them.

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
  • Smoke
  • 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

 

Article reviewed by Dr Lee Kim En, neurologist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital

References

Stroke. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.singhealth.com.sg/patient-care/patient-education/stroke

High Blood Pressure, AFib and Your Risk of Stroke. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/atrial-fibrillation/why-atrial-fibrillation-af-or-afib-matters/high-blood-pressure-afib-and-your-risk-of-stroke

21.AUG.2016
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Lee Kim En
Neurologist
Mount Elizabeth Hospital

Dr Lee Kim En is a neurologist practising at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore. His clinical interests include intensive care medicine and stroke treatment.