Are we really as informed about the causes and treatment of stroke in young adults? Well, according to a recent YouGov survey conducted amongst 1,000 Singaporeans, 54 per cent of Singaporeans believe that stroke causes unavoidable, life-altering damage.
When in fact, stroke can actually be mitigated by changing one’s lifestyle. As Dr Wee Chee Keong says, “Cultivating good habits, and taking swift action during the onset of a stroke can have a life-changing impact on recovery outcomes.”
Raising awareness of the condition has become even more crucial now that the number of younger stroke patients has increased. In Singapore alone, there are as many as 26 new cases of stroke every day. Stroke has even been found as the fourth leading cause of death in our city.
To look into the causes of stroke in young adults and how we can prevent it, theAsianparent spoke with Dr Wee to give us all his insights on the condition.
What Is A Stroke?
As per the doctor, a stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted, causing loss of brain cells and brain damage if left untreated for a prolonged period.
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2 Types Of Stroke
- Ischemic stroke
Occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted due to a blood clot in an artery, preventing the brain from receiving oxygen and nutrients.
- Haemorrhagic stroke
Occurs when an artery bursts in the brain from weakness in the blood vessel wall as a result of high blood pressure.
“As a result of a lack of blood flow to the brain, functions that are controlled by the brain, such as movement and cognitive functions, may become affected,” says Dr Wee.
He also notes how stroke patients often experience:
- Muscle weakness
- Changes in sensation
- Paralysis on one side of their body
“This can create challenges in mobility, and patients may struggle with daily activities and a loss of independence. In developed countries, stroke is the leading cause of disability,” he adds.
A stroke patient’s mental health can also be affected by these changes as they recognise how they may not be able to return to their lives before the stroke.
When asked how strokes are usually diagnosed, Dr Wee shares that the condition is a clinical diagnosis that is determined by a doctor. Brain imaging such as MRIs or CT scans can also help to determine whether you suffered from a stroke.
“However, even MRIs can miss 5% of strokes. Therefore, in the end, the stroke diagnosis can only be properly diagnosed after a doctor’s overall assessment,” he makes sure to add.
Common Symptoms Of Stroke To Look Out For
According to Dr Wee, the common symptoms of a stroke include:
- Facial drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden difficulty walking
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Having a sudden severe headache with no known cause (in more outstanding circumstances)
It was noted how many stroke sufferers have the tendency to downplay symptoms before they become too severe to ignore. With this, Dr Wee stresses how crucial it is for symptoms to be identified and addressed as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one are suspected to be suffering a stroke, it is best to call emergency services. He also advises keeping “FAST” in mind which stands for the following:
- F – Facial drooping
- A – Arm weakness
- S – Speech Difficulty
- T – Time to call 995
Causes Of Stroke In Young Adults
Meanwhile, the most common risk factors for stroke that can be controlled by lifestyle habits are:
“Taking active steps to improve these lifestyle habits will go a long way in reducing one’s risk of stroke, especially since these are the factors that can be actively mitigated,” says Dr Wee.
Image source: iStock
Treatment Options For A Stroke
Common stroke treatments involve the administration of clot-busting drugs. This is a process known as thrombolysis where the blood clot formed in the brain artery can be broken down by medication.
“As time is of the essence, thrombolysis is often used if patients are conveyed to the stroke centre early enough, usually within 6 hours,” Dr Wee shares.
Although, the drugs may not be effective in other scenarios. They may also not be suitable once the stroke symptoms have become too severe or too much time has passed since the onset of the stroke.
There are alternative treatments in cases like these which include mechanical thrombectomies with the use of stent receivers, surgical clippings, open surgery or neurointervention therapies.
“When dealing with a stroke, if the blockage is too severe or goes on for too long, a portion of the brain may die, critically affecting recovery outcomes of stroke patients,” says the doctor.
How To Prevent The Risk Of Having A Stroke
Image source: iStock
Dr Wee says good and healthy habits that one can have to reduce the risk of having a stroke include the following:
- Reducing the intake of alcohol, salt and sugar in their diet
- Consuming foods high in cholesterol and saturated fats (such as deep-fried foods) in moderation
- No smoking
- Regular exercise
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
“If already diagnosed with the aforementioned conditions (such as high blood pressure of high cholesterol), taking doctor-prescribed medication as instructed and going for frequent health check-ups to monitor these vitals will contribute to proper management of these risk factors,” he also advises.
“The bottom line is that stroke is a disease that can be managed with the cultivation of good lifestyle habits. Many of the risk factors for stroke are within the control of patients,” he makes sure to add.
“In addition, the damage caused by stroke can be mitigated with proper understanding of how caregivers and patients should act following the onset of a stroke. There is life after stroke, and the chances of retaining independence can be improved by bridging the knowledge gap on this disease,” concludes Dr Wee.
The information provided in this article are the independent views of Dr Wee Chee Keong and are for educational purposes only.
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