World Stroke Day: Personal risk factors to watch out for

Around 80 million people living in the world today have experienced a stroke and over 50m survivors live with some form of permanent disability as a result. Although, life after stroke won’t be quite the same with the right care and support, living a meaningful life is still possible


A stroke is a brain attack that happens when the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off. It can be caused by a blockage or a bleed.

Without blood, brain cells can be damaged or die, which can have different effects depending on where it happens in the brain, affecting the body, mobility and speech, as well as how patients think and feel.

The type of disability caused by a stroke depends on the extent of brain damage and what part of the brain is damaged.

It’s been proven that time lost is brain lost and every minute that treatment is delayed, more of your brain is damaged.

Some stroke risk factors can’t be controlled. These include gender, age and family history. However, many stroke risk factors are lifestyle related. Everyone can reduce their risk of having a stroke by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

Dr Kapil Zirpe, Head of the Department of Neurocritical Care at the Ruby Hall Clinic, said, “With an increase in sedentary lifestyle and ailments like blood pressure , diabetes , hypertension, and smoking. Strokes are are hitting people at a younger age , the incidences of stroke are also increasing . Stroke (also known as cerebrovascular disease) occurs when a blood vessel supplying to brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts.

He added, “When that happens, a part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it starts to affect its function.  The extent and location of the brain cell damage determines the severity of the stroke, which can range from minimal to catastrophic. Because different areas of the brain control different functions, the specific effects of a particular stroke depend on which area of the brain is injured.”

He explained, “A small stroke in a critical area of the brain can be permanently disabling. Because brain cells do not regenerate, damage to the nerve cells is permanent. Ruptured blood vessels cause haemorrhagic or bleeding strokes.”

Dr Santosh Sontakke, Consultant neurologist, from Pune said, “The key to prevent stroke is to identify risk factors which are blood pressure, increased sugar, obesity, smoking and heart ailments.  The symptoms of stroke are numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body, sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.”

Dr Sontakke elaborated, “After the age of 40 regular screening for risk factors is essential. After a stroke patients may suffer from immobility, inability to speak, pain, depression, cognitive decline and stiffness.”

Dr Sontakke further stated that the new treatments that have drastically improved the disabilities, include clot bursting injections which have to be administered within 4.5 hours of the stroke to avoid irreversible damage to the cells and tissues.

Also a clot can be removed by new interventional procedure called Mechanical Thrombectomy which has to be done within 6 hours of the stroke onset

Dr Rajas Deshpande, a Neurologist from Pune said, “Regular exercise, healthy diet, intake of fruits and vegetables, consuming less salt, avoiding smoking, and tobacco consumption will lead to a better life. Vitamin B 12 deficiency should also be avoided.”