A stroke, also known as a brain attack, occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissues from getting oxygen and nutrients. As a result, the brain cells begin to die in minutes – leading to lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death. To spread awareness about the condition, its prevention, treatment and to ensure better and support for survivors, World Stroke Day is observed on October 29 every year.
Explaining some common reasons behind stroke, Dr Rajnish Kumar, HOD and Senior Consultant, Neurology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram, said, “Lethargic lifestyles and genetic disorders have severely increased the risk of stroke in people. Usually, it is the lack of oxygen that results in stroke but are we aware of the many reasons that lead to this lack of oxygen? People eat adulterated and fried foods available at cheap costs in the market and spend hours and hours in systems or mobile phones at the cost of their life.”
He highlighted that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and the fifth leading cause of disability in India. In addition to the factors mentioned above, did you know that conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, too, can increase your risk of stroke?
“Diabetes and hypertension are the two most common risk factors for stroke worldwide,” Dr Dhruv Zutshi, Senior Consultant, Neurology, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj.
Explaining how hypertension is linked to stroke, he said, “Hypertension is a major risk factor for ischemic stroke and intracerebral haemorrhage Elevated systolic pressure is a ‘direct, continuous and independent’ risk factor for stroke. Isolated systolic hypertension is a particularly strong risk factor for stroke in the elderly and in those with type 2 diabetes.”
As such, control of high blood pressure (BP), especially systolic hypertension, has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke in several prospective controlled trials, he mentioned. “A goal BP of <130/80 mm Hg is currently advocated for hypertensive diabetic patients with increased primary stroke risk. Available data do not support a specific drug class for primary stroke prevention in the hypertensive diabetic; rather, tight BP control is emphasised,” Dr Zutshi added.
Additionally, the expert noted that the incidence of stroke among patients with diabetes is three times greater than in the general population. “In the Framingham Heart Study, patients with glucose intolerance had double the risk of brain infarction compared with nondiabetics; the relative risk (RR) is greater in diabetic women than in men. The relative risk of stroke in persons with type 2 diabetes reaches a maximum in the 40–60-year-old group, with diabetic women comprising a greater proportion of patients with stroke than non-diabetic women,” he said.
He concluded by saying that there’s an increase in both short-term and long-term mortality in diabetics who have had a stroke.