World Stroke Day: Blood pressure, diabetes & smoking increase the risk of brain stroke, says Dr HS Mann



29 October 2023


Stroke is the second leading cause of death and long-term disability in the world. However, awareness levels continue to be low among people about its symptoms and warning signs. To sensitise the masses about stroke and its related complications, World Stroke Day is observed on October 29 every year. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Together we are #Greater Than Stroke.’

Dr HS Mann, Director, Department of Neurology, Fortis Hospital Mohali, gives us an insight into the causes, symptoms, precautions and treatment options for brain stroke.

What is a stroke?

Stating that a stroke occurs when blood circulation to a part of the brain is blocked (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts (hemorrhagic stroke), Dr Mann, added, “This may lead to death of the brain cells owing to decreased blood flow and lack of oxygen. It is a medical emergency and warrants urgent medical intervention.”


A stroke is usually triggered by hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol level, obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and cardiac conditions.

Warning Signs – ‘Be FAST’

The symptoms include loss of balance, visual complaints, sudden weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body), and sudden speech difficulty.

Stroke in young patients
Dr Mann
 saidabout 15-20% strokes occur in people below 45 years of age. Other additional risk factors include cardiovascular conditions, dissection of arteries, substance abuse and vasculitis.

Importance of Golden Hour

Stating that the Golden Hour was crucial, Dr Mann, added, “Time is crucial as loss of oxygen to the brain cells for even one minute can cause loss of 1.8 million neurons. Immediate treatment with intravenous thrombolysis (within 4.5 hours) with or without mechanical thrombectomy (up to 24 hours in select patients) is required.”


On ways to prevent a stroke, Dr Mann, added, “Regulate blood pressure as any elevation in BP can increase the chance of getting a stroke. Keep a tab on diabetes, limit sugar and salt consumption, quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake. Moderate physical activity at least five days a week and taking time out for yoga or meditation. Introducing lifestyle changes like yoga and meditation. Physical activity like brisk walk for 30-45 minutes about five days a week.”


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