Do you know that stroke is more common in men than women? Stroke can vary from a minor disturbance, a flick of an eyelid, forgotten in a few minutes, to a major attack, causing unconsciousness and death. I decided to discuss stroke again because of what transpired today in Gregory University Specialist Hospital, Uturu. I saw a man in his 50s two months ago. He said he was having regular flashes from his eyes and occasional tingling sensation of his left arm. His BP was hitting the roof – 200/120. I controlled his BP, and tried to frighten him, by warning him, to take his drugs, that if not next time he will be carried to this hospital in a stretcher. Lo and behold early this morning, Wednesday February 3, 2021, the man was carried to the hospital unconscious. He had stroke.
I cannot warn all of us enough. Please if you are hypertensive, do not in God’s name, neglect your drugs simply because you have no symptoms. As I said two weeks ago, high blood pressure is a silent killer. The resultant consequence (apologies to Zebrudaya) is stroke. Okay let us get to brass tacks.
The effects of stroke occur in the opposite side, to the side of the brain affected – because one side of the body is controlled by the opposite side of the brain. This is because nerves in the brain cross over, to the other side of the body, symptoms appear on the side of the body opposite the damaged side of the brain. A stroke in the side of the brain that is “dominant “may also affect speech. Mental concentration may be impaired, but judgement and basic personality need not be affected.
We know that stroke is also called cerebrovascular accident (CVA), which results in death of brain tissue (cerebral infarction), leading to lack of blood flow and insufficient oxygen in the brain. The typical patient is obese, hypertensive, and aged at least 40.
He notices sudden weakness of an arm or leg, and cannot speak if his dominant hemisphere is affected. Most strokes begin suddenly, develop rapidly and cause brain damage within minutes it is called completed strokes. Less common strokes may continue to worsen for several hours a day or two, what we call “stroke in evolution”. The progression is usually, but not always, interrupted by somewhat stable periods, during which the area temporarily stops enlarging, and some improvement occurs.
The severity depends on the position and extent of the damage. In a severe attack, patient loses consciousness, just like my good friend who was brought to the hospital. Death may then follow, in a matter of hours. Dear reader, please hear me now: let the management of your BP be a priority, especially if you are above 40. Alternately, after stroke, consciousness is regained, but there is usually lasting damage.
A stroke attack may also show itself in sudden paralysis of one side, or part of the body, without loss of consciousness. Or, again it may develop over several hours, with persistent, throbbing headache, vomiting, dizziness and numbness of the limbs. Many people recover remarkably well after stroke. Recovery depends on age, general health and the site and size of damage. Even if recovery is possible, it may take years.
Treatment consists mainly of rest, and prolonged convalescence, with careful nursing, physiotherapy and if needed speech therapy. Drugs are sometimes used to lower blood pressure, if it is high and so, help prevent further damage. Always be medically guided.
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