World Stroke Day !

On World Stroke Day, let’s create awareness on how to recognise symptoms of a stroke, risk factors and treatment options.

Strokes are leading causes of death and permanent disability worldwide.

In a stroke, a part of the brain doesn’t receive  sufficient blood or oxygen and as result functioning  of the corresponding body part gets affected.

Strokes are of 3 types, Transient Ischemic attack, Hemorrhagic Stroke and  Ischemic Stroke.

In a Transient ischemic stroke, a blood clot temporarily stops the blood flow from reaching the brain, 

In an Ischemic stroke, a blood clot stops blood flow to the brain. This can be due to a clot travelling from another part of the body to the brain.

In a hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel spills or ruptures, causing a leak.

Symptoms of a stroke are usually all neurological, affecting speech, movement and balance.

Usual Stroke symptoms are :

World Stroke Day
Stroke symptoms ( headache , weakness and numbness on one side , face drooping , slurred speech , loss of conscious ( syncope ), blur vision , loss of balance )
  • Slurry Speech, inability to speak coherent words and sentences
  • Droopy face, with a droop towards one side
  • Inability to lift one arm or sudden weakness in one limb
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness, Vertigo, with or without nausea
  • Confusion, inability in understanding speech are often symptoms too.

Are there any factors, which increase risk of stroke ?

  • Several life style factors contribute to increasing risk of stroke
  • Obesity or excess weight
  • Hypertension or High Blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • History of Heart Disease
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and adequate physical activity
  • Alcoholism

What to do when you spot a stroke victim ?

A Stroke can be completely reversible if treated well in time.  The time window for treatment is usually not more than a couple of hours from onset of symptoms.

Time is of essence for a stroke victim as  many as 32000 cells die every minute of delay, leading to irrepairable damage with every minute of delay.

A CT scan or an MRI are first diagnostic tests and based on whether it is a clot that can be surgically removed or  needs to be dissolved, or a leak or rupture of blood vessels, a neurologist or a neurosurgeon take over.

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Diabetes- The soft and silent killer !

The minute most of us hear “Diabetes”, we think of Blood Sugar.

Blood sugar is elevated level of sugar or glucose in the blood which if unchecked overtime, leads to diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates, inability of our body to convert sugar into glucose and subsequently elevated levels of glucose in the blood.

We all know about Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes but whats important is what happens in the body, when we have elevated levels of sugar in the body for long.

Common Effects and Risks associated with high sugar levels and diabetes are:

Diabetes
Diabetes complications affected organs. diabetes affects nerves, kidneys, eyes, vessels, heart, brain and skin

Risk of stroke: Diabetes or elevated sugar levels, increase our risk of stroke, about 4 times more than non diabetics

Risk of Heart Disease:  Diabetes increases risk of heart attack , heart disease. As the blood vessels get damaged, it puts the heart under pressure and an increased risk of heart attacks.  High glucose levels also lead to fatty deposits. Coupled with obesity, high blood pressure, it puts you at a severe risk and an angioplasty  or an open heart bypass surgery may even be required.

Risk of Cataract: Diabetics are at an increased risk of developing cataracts

Risk of Glaucoma: Glaucoma risk is significantly more for diabetics. If left untreated, Glaucoma can lead to blindness.

Risk of Pancreas Malfunction: A malfunction in pancreas leads to diabetes and higher blood sugar levels in turn continue to damage the pancreas.
Risk of Gastroparesis:   Increase in blood sugar levels also makes it hard for the  stomach to empty completely. This also in turn leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. Nausea, vomiting, bloating, and heartburn are common symptoms.
Risk of Kidney Damage:  Unchecked High sugar levels and diabetes, damages the kidneys, leads to diabetic neuropathy and eventually one may need a dialysis or even a kidney transplant.
Risk of Nerve Damage: Diabetics often  have tingling sensation in the foot and suffer from nerve damage. Lack of sensation or peripheral neuropathy is dangerous as due to lack of sensation, one may fail to notice injuries

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Foot Problems:  Unchecked diabetes can lead to diabetic foot where the entire foot may even need to be amputated.
Ketoacidosis:   In absence of insulin,  the body uses alternate hormones to turn fat into energy, which creates a high level of toxic chemicals such as acids and  ketones, which may lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis.  Diabetic ketoacidosis  often leads to loss of consciousness and other life threatening complications. A Fruity Breath or a sweet smelling breath is often an indicator of diabetes and calls for a check on blood sugar levels.
Visual Problems:  Diabetics often face visual problems, as high glucose levels often lead to swollen, leaky blood vessels in the eye, leading to a condition called diabetic retinopathy.  These vision problems,  may even lead to partial or total loss of vision Vision problems can be gradual hence routine eye checkups if you are diabetic or have pre diabetes are a must.

Risk of damage to blood vessels:  High blood sugar levels or high glucose levels,
restrict blood flow, damaging the blood vessels.

As unchecked diabetes, leads to a host of problems, it is important to make life style changes. Pre diabetes conditions can be reversed by exercise and dietary changes.  Type 2 diabetes can be controlled and even reversed if significant life style changes are made.

One of the most important life style change is to Quit smoking as diabetes and smoking leads to an enhanced risk of heart disease.

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Swollen Legs and Feet ! Could it be something serious ?

kidney disease
Edema, swelling in legs

Many of us have swollen limbs, especially legs , ankles, feet which feel soft and cushiony due to water retention.

More often swollen legs and feet can be due to inactivity, sitting and standing at one position without moving.

This pulls the fluid down towards lower limbs, making them swell.

The swelling due to water retention is called edema.

However swollen legs and feet are often a sign of serious health problems such as kidney disease, cardio vascular problems or heart disease, liver disease, hormones being taken during HRT, deep vein thrombosis and sometimes even medication for diabetes and anti depressants.

Chronic pulmonary embolism may also lead to thromboembolism where a blood clot may travel to other parts of the body.

Incase the blood clot travels to the brain, it could lead to partial paralysis and even a stroke. Blood thinners may be advised to reduce risk of clotting.
As a 1st check, your doctor may prescribe diuretics and ask you to cut down on salt.

Then a few diagnostic tests such KFT( Kidney Function test), LFT( Liver function test), Echo, ECG may be advised.

Do watch out for signs like pain in one limb, heat generated in one limb, loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, fast or rapid heart beat and rush to the doctor as you may be experiencing thromboembolism.

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High Blood Pressure and Brain Damage

High Blood Pressure and Brain Damage

Stroke, Dementia, Mild Coginitive Impaiment and Tran Ischemic attack are few of problems resulting due to high blood pressure.

What is Stroke?

A stroke happens when a part of the brain does not get proper supply of oxygen and the brain cells start to die.

High Blood Pressure causes stroke due to formation  of  blood clots leading in the arteries  which block off blood supply.

High blood pressure over a period of time, also causes the arteries to weaken , narrow and potentially rupture over a period of time.

What is Dementia?

A dementia is a state before alzheimer where a patient tends to start forgetting things, In Vascular dementia the culprit is often a stroke.

Dementia and mild cognitive impairment both result from lack and interruption of blood supply to the brain when high blood pressure damages arteries over time.

Transient Ischemic attack or a mini stroke is a brief disruption in the blood supply caused by a blood clot. A mini stroke is a warning sign that a full blown stroke is on it way.

Consult if your loved ones suffers from Stroke, Dementia , Mild Coginitive Impaiment and Tran Ischemic attack.

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