Tissue Plasminogen Activator or tPa needs to be given to the patient within 2 to 3 hours of the first stroke symptoms.
A stroke is a condition caused by a block or leakage in the blood vessels in the brain that stops the proper flow of blood and oxygen in the brain. For every second that the brain is denied oxygen and blood devastating, irreversible damage occurs. Therefore, it is often said that during a stroke seconds lost equal brain loss. As the brain sustains more damage, the body begins to shut down. Getting emergency care within an hour of the initial symptoms is the only hope.
PREVENTING A STROKE
Making certain lifestyle changes can help with stroke prevention
- Eat Healthily. Choose a diet that has low saturated fat, trans saturated fat and bad cholesterol. Eat lots of high-fibre foods and limit salt intake. This reduces the risk of hypertension and high cholesterol – both of which can lead to a stroke.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity and overweight increase one’s risk of stroke. Maintain a healthy body weight and stay fit.
- Exercise Regularly. Staying active and working out regularly helps you lose excess weight, while also lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Quit Smoking & Limit Alcohol Consumption. These are two habits that one must avoid in order to stay healthy and prevent the onset of several diseases.
An Ischaemic Stroke occurs when a blood clot occurs in an artery, therefore cutting off the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain. These clots occur in arteries that have gradually become narrow due to fatty deposits along their insides and this process is called atherosclerosis. This condition is a natural occurrence as a person age but can be hastened by certain other underlying diseases and habits such as:
SYMPTOMS OF A STROKE
Since the onset of a stroke is sudden, it is important to be alert to symptoms. Various parts of the brain control specific parts of the body. Hence symptoms will depend on which part of the brain is affected by the block/ leak first. However, there are some common signs of a stroke that you can watch out for.
- Numbness in the face, arms and/or legs.
- Trouble seeing with one or both eyes.
- Confusion and trouble speaking.
- Lack of coordination leading to difficulty in walking.
- Loss of balance and dizziness
- Severe headache
Health practitioners recommend the FAST or BE FAST stroke test to identify if a person is having a stroke.
- B – Loss of BALANCE because of which the person cannot walk properly.
- E – Blurry, double or loss of vision in one or both EYES.
- F – One side of the FACE drops causing an eye and the mouth to droop.
- A – Numbness and weakness in one or both ARMS.
- S – Slurry SPEECH.
- T – Get to the hospital on TIME.
HOW TO STOP A STROKE WHILE IT’S HAPPENING?
If you see someone having a stroke the best thing you can do for them is to get them to a hospital. At the hospital and in the emergency room, under the supervision of trained physicians, the patient is usually administered the drug Tissue Plasminogen Activator. This drug is not available as normal OTC medications that you can stock up at home. Moreover, there are certain cases where the patient cannot be treated with the drug due to underlying conditions.
- Tissue Plasminogen Activator or tPa needs to be given to the patient within 2 to 3 hours of the first stroke symptoms.
- It is administered via an IV in the arm as soon as the patient is brought into the ER.
- tPa works by dissolving blot clots that might be cutting off blood supply to the brain.
- tPa helps restore blood and oxygen supply to the brain, therefore limiting damage and functional impairment.
- The drawbacks of tPa are that its efficacy reduces when administered later than 3 hours since the first symptoms and tPa is not powerful enough to break down large clots.
- Before administering tPa the stroke team will check blood pressure, blood sugar levels, platelet count and clotting time.
Since tPa for stroke can be administered only in a hospital setting here is what you can do when you suspect a person is having a stroke:
- #1 Make note of the time that the symptoms started.
- #2 Call for an ambulance rather than drive because the emergency responders can begin the first line of treatment on the way to the hospital.
- #3 Inform the doctor about the patient’s pre-existing medical conditions.
- #4 Give the doctor a list of medications that the patient is taking.
- #5 Mention any allergies that the person might have.
Things you should avoid while a person is having a stroke:
- #1 Do not let the person go to sleep even if they say they are feeling very tired.
- #2 Do not call the family physician. Call for an ambulance and get him/her to the ER.
- #3 Do not give the person anything to eat because a stroke might affect their ability to swallow.
- #4 Do not give them any medication.
The key is not to panic and instead react quickly. Remember that time is of the essence. Do not waste a single moment.