Millions of Strokes Could Be Prevented by Reducing Risk Factors and Knowing the Warning Signs, says Expert ahead of World Stroke Day
Cerebrovascular specialist from American hospital Cleveland Clinic says up to 80% of strokes could be prevented by changing lifestyle habits
Wednesday, 28 October 2020, CLEVELAND: Millions of strokes could be prevented worldwide by reducing lifestyle risk factors and knowing the warning signs of an acute stroke, says a leading expert at a top American hospital, Cleveland Clinic, ahead of World Stroke Day on October 29.
Dr M. Shazam Hussain, Director of the Cerebrovascular Center at Cleveland Clinic, said: “Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by controlling risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Risk factors can often be avoided or controlled with simple lifestyle changes such as exercising daily, having a healthy diet, and stopping smoking. Most people suffering from strokes do not get treated in time – they should be aware of the warning signs.”
He adds that the commonly used acronym, BEFAST, is an easy way to remember the warning signs: Balance (for example, losing balance, difficulty walking); Eyes (any trouble with vision); Face (droopiness on one side or the other), Arm (weakness or numbness, which could also apply to the leg); Speech (any difficulty speaking, slurring words or not understanding spoken words); and Time (calling emergency services immediately on spotting the warning signs).
“Time is vital as we lose somewhere in the order of about 2 million neurons a minute in the situation of acute stroke, so every second counts,” he says.
Strokes can be ischemic, when a blood clot cuts off the blood supply to the brain; hemorrhagic, when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. Transient ischemic attacks, or “mini-strokes”, are short-lasting symptoms that can be a warning of a stroke to come. People with stroke symptoms, even temporary, should seek medical attention right away.
The World Stroke Organization estimates 14.5 million people will have a stroke in 2020, with 5.5 million dying from a stroke. Globally, 80 million people have survived a stroke.
For patients who have survived a stroke, they could still face significant recovery and rehabilitation to regain lost skills, relearn tasks, and work to be independent again. Research is promising that recovery can be aided with robotics and stem cell treatment in the future.
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