'I am Woman'

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

Stroke occurs when the blood supply to any part of the brain is reduced severely or interrupted. This deprives the brain of nutrients and oxygen supply and could make the brain cells die off. This is an emergency situation that requires urgent medical attention to manage the level of brain damage and curb it. A stroke may be due to blockage in an artery (ischemic stroke) or a leakage of a blood vessel (haemorrhagic stroke).

Ischemic stroke may either be thrombotic (occurs when blood clots form in one of the arteries that supply blood to the brain) or embolic (occurs when a blood clot or other debris forms commonly in the heart and is lodged in narrower brain arteries). Haemorrhagic stroke may present as an intracerebral haemorrhage (involves the bursting of blood vessel in the brain) or as a subarachnoid haemorrhage (involves the bursting of an artery on or near the brain).

Symptoms of a stroke include trouble with speaking, seeing, walking, paralysis or numbness on the leg, arm or face. This call for a F.A.S.T. action which includes a check on the FACE to observe any form of droopiness, observe the ARMS for any relapse, watch out for slurry in SPEECH then, it is TIME to call a doctor. A lot of damage will be averted if the F.A.S.T. is done promptly.

Risk factors for a stroke include obstructive sleep apnea (a sleep disorder that results in the reduction of oxygen supply to the body at night), diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases. Other factors include unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as use of illicit drugs, heavy drinking, and physical inactivity, increase in age, black race and genetics. Though younger men are more likely to have stroke, women are most likely to die of a stroke. Little wonder the theme of this year’s World Stroke Day is ‘I am woman’. The theme focuses on the fact that women are:

Ø  More likely than men to experience hypertension and obesity which are risk factors for stroke

Ø  More likely to experience a severe decline in cognitive function

Ø  More likely to take on the caregiving role for a relation with stroke

Ø  Less likely to receive acute care and rehabilitation.

Complications that may arise after a stroke episode include depression or emotional problems, paralysis, difficulty swallowing, memory loss and pain. However, the good news is that stroke can be treated as well as prevented. It can be prevented by controlling exposure to the risk factors. Treating stroke involves the use of medications and heart-healthy lifestyle changes.

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