‘People suffering mini-strokes more likely to suffer major strokes’

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) People who suffer a mini-stroke — a brief stroke-like attack — are at a higher risk of suffering a stroke within the next few days and if not provided immediate medical care, the patient loses 1.9 million neurons, also called nerve cells, doctors said on Sunday.

“Over 40 per cent of the people who have had a mini-stroke are prone to have a regular stroke within three days. It happens when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked or reduced, often by a blood clot. After a short time, blood flows again and the symptoms go away,” said Vipul Gupta, Director, Neurointervention, at Gurgaon-based Artemis Hospital.

According to doctors, mini-strokes can be considered as warning for future attacks, so early treatment can help prevent a stroke.

The peak age of stroke occurrence is usually 55-65 years and the risk increases with age. Men at a younger age are twice as likely as women to have a mini-stroke. It has been observed that a woman with a history of mini-strokes and suffering from migraine is three times more likely to have a stroke in the same week.

Satnam Singh Chhabra, Head Neuro and Spine Surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: “Every two seconds, someone has a stroke, and unfortunately, many do not receive proper care, due to lack of recognition. Even if a person had a mini-stroke and the symptoms have gone away, they still need to call the doctor right away.”

“Early recognition makes a big difference and can lead to unbelievable outcomes during treatment, but many people delay going to the hospital because they do not recognise the symptoms,” Chhabra said.

The doctors also said that few people face cognitive impairments like trouble speaking or understanding and remain confused.

“Loss of vision accompanied by severe headache may also be a symptom for the start of stroke. Golden hour of stroke is first six hours, and urgent treatment is the key,” said Chhabra.

Stroke is the third most common cause of death and disability in India. More than 17 million strokes occur globally each year with over 6 million deaths registered in India.

The challenge is huge as 26 million stroke survivors are living with significant disabilities that impede their ability to carry out daily living tasks.

High blood pressure is among the reasons which lead to mini-strokes.

“When blood pushes too forcefully against the walls of the arteries, it can damage or weaken them and lead to stroke. Unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle (physical inactivity) leads to Cardio Vascular Diseases, diabetes and builds up cholesterol which contributes to plaque build up in arteries, which can block blood flow to the brain,” said Chhabra.