Brain Stroke Is No Longer Just An Age Problem

  • December 17, 2021
Brain Attacks

A stroke is a major health event which occurs when blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or decreased. This would deprive brain tissue of vital oxygen and nutrients, causing brain cells to die. It’s a serious medical emergency and calls for early intervention and treatment to minimize brain damage and associated complications.

While common perception is that stroke is an old man’s disease, in reality, no age is too young to have a stroke. In fact, recent studies indicate that while the incidence of stroke among the 65-plus segment seems to be getting fewer, the number of brain attacks among younger adults is alarmingly on the rise.

What are the warning signs of stroke to watch out for?

Some of the common early symptoms include:

  • Slurring, confusion and difficulty comprehending things
  • Sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg, often affecting one side of the body
  • Blurred or double vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden violent headache with dizziness or nausea
  • Struggling with balance

Immediate medical attention is required, if one side of the face droops, the patient is unable to raise an arm or speech is slurred.

What causes strokes?

Strokes are primarily caused by two factors – a clogged artery, known as ischemic stroke, or a blood vessel bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). There’s also a condition called transient ischemic attack, where blood flow to the brain is temporarily disrupted, without any lasting damage or symptoms.

  • Ischemic stroke: This is the most common type, triggered by blockage in blood vessels caused by fatty deposits or blood clots. Some recent research indicates that Covid-19 could also be a trigger, but more details are awaited on this.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke: This is caused by a ruptured vessel often precipitated by high blood pressure, overuse of blood thinners, physical trauma, etc.
  • Are the causes of stroke any different in young people?

    Yes, the types of strokes in young people are typically different from those suffered by older patients. Doctors say there are certain heart conditions which could trigger a brain attack in younger adults, while this risk seems to diminish with age. Also, very often, an underlying condition goes undetected in a young person till it has led to a stroke.

    Some triggers which differ from those for the elderly include:

    • Patent Foramen Ovale: These are tiny holes in the 2 atria of the heart, a congenital defect affecting nearly a quarter of the population and very often go undetected.
    • Arterial dissection: One-fourth of strokes among the below-45 population could be attributed to the dissection of a blood vessel in the neck, either through some kind of trauma or just spontaneously. Symptoms of this condition could include headache, neck and face pain, double vision and a sudden loss of taste.
    • Clotting disorders: Strokes can be precipitated by clotting disorders and are often the first indication of such clotting.
    • Drug abuse: Use of certain narcotics like cocaine can lead to narrowing of vessels and blood clotting hence raising the risk of strokes.

    Are there lifestyle risk factors younger adults should be mindful of?

    Yes, lifestyle choices do have a big part to play. So, try to avoid:

    • Obesity
    • Lack of exercise
    • Smoking
    • Too much alcohol consumption
    • Substance abuse, particularly cocaine and meths

    What are the medical risk factors for stroke?

    • High blood pressure
    • Diabetes
    • High cholesterol levels
    • Obstructive sleep apnea
    • Heart disease
    • Family history of stroke or heart attack
    • Covid-19 infection

    Recovery from brain stroke

    While more and more young people are becoming vulnerable to brain attacks, one silver lining is that they also recover better and faster. So, a person in his/her 30s has a much better chance of recovery than an octogenarian, thanks to better brain plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to adapt and learn new things. Of course, recovery hinges on many other factors like how much brain damage occurred, the quality of care and very importantly, the patient’s self-motivation. It’s quite normal to slip into depression during recovery, and hence the mental health aspect of a recovering stroke patient is absolutely critical. Being able to stay positive can only help the care team and hasten the recovery process.

    Medica Ranchi’s advanced stroke programme offers comprehensive diagnosis, treatment and rehab facilities under the supervision of experienced neurologists and neurosurgeons. 24×7 emergency services under consultant supervision and advanced ICU facilities ensure the right care at the right time.

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