Symptoms: Stroke symptoms may include:
Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
Sudden confusion, trouble in speaking or understanding speech.
Sudden trouble seeing in from one or both eyes.
Sudden trouble in walking , dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
Sudden, severe headache with no known cause. Often described as ?feeling like my head is going to explode? or the worst headache of my life. This is seen in nearly 50 per cent cases
Risk factors for having stroke
? High blood pressure
? Increasing age
? Prior stroke
? Cigarette smoking
? Male sex
? Diabetes mellitus
? Carotid artery disease
? Heart disease
? Drug abuse.
Secondary risk factors that indirectly increase the risk of stroke by increasing the risk of heart disease include:
? High cholesterol
? Lack of exercise
Emotions: A stroke survivor may start crying suddenly, often for no apparent reason. This is called emotional instability.
Depression: This is very common after stroke. It is more likely in persons living alone and in those having speech/communication impairment.
Bodily awareness: Stroke causes people to lose mobility and /or feeling in an arm and/or leg, or suffer dimness of sight on one side. The loss of feeling or vision may result in a loss of awareness. Stroke survivors may forget or ignore their weaker side This problem is called ?neglect?.
Perception: A stroke can also affect seeing, touching, moving and thinking, so a person'sperception of everyday objects may be changed. Stroke survivors may not be able to recognise and understand familiar objects the way they did before.
Speech Usually stroke doesn'tcause hearing loss, although people may have problems understanding speech. They also may have trouble saying what they?re thinking . This is called aphasia. It is most common when a stroke weakness the right side of the body (effects the left side of the brain).
Swallowing: Stroke can affect chewing and swallowing food due to weakeness in mouth muscles.
Thinking: Stroke can affect the ability to think clearly. Planning and doing simple activities may become difficult for stroke survivors.
Movement: Stroke can affect the ability to use an arm or leg. This usually occurs on one side of the body.
Bladder: About half of stroke patients have bladder control problems for the first several weeks. For a vast majority of patient this improves without treatment.
Sexual Dysfunction: Sexual desire remains intact in most people after a stroke! However, many men and women who were previously sexually active experience problems.
Can strokes be prevented?
Although not all strokes can be prevented the chance of having one can be reduced for most people. Treatable factors include:
Controlling blood pressure by not smoking and by not taking alcohol.
If you are diabetic, controlling blood sugar and regular modest exercise will be important. Lowering cholesterol, decreases the risk of heart disease. This may be accomplished with diet, exercise, or medication.
Remember by following your doctor'sadvice and controlling the risk factors, approximately 80 per cent of strokes can be prevented.
(The writer is Secretary General, Delhi Gynaecologist Forum.)