One in four people is at risk of having a stroke or cerebrovascular accident (CVA). According to the World Health Organization, it is the second leading cause of death on the planet. Every year it claims more than 6.6 million lives. The reports are devastating. Currently, more than 100 million men and women live with its consequences, that is, with paralysis on one side of the body, poor motor control, tense and rigid muscles, balance problems, difficulty communicating, among other limiting complications.
Myths and truths of a stroke
On the occasion of World Stroke Day, the interventional neurologist Manuel Moquillaza, coordinator of the Neurology Service at Clinica Ricardo Palma, clears up some myths and truths about this condition.
- Stroke can be prevented. True: 75% of stroke cases can be avoided if neurovascular risk factors such as: high blood pressure, diabetes, dyslipidemia, smoking, alcoholism, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, cardiovascular diseases, as well as drug use are controlled. Acquire a healthy lifestyle from childhood and have an annual check-up to identify any health problems in time.
- The first hours of showing the symptoms are decisive. True: The earlier the stroke is recognized and treated, the lesser the neurological sequelae and the greater the patient’s degree of functional independence. Facial asymmetry (one side of the face drooping), dysarthria (difficulty in articulating words) and hemiparesis (condition that affects the strength of half of the body on the same side) are the most frequent signs of stroke.
- It always leaves after-effects. False: Neurological sequelae are directly proportional to the time in which the symptoms are recognized by the patient and family members and to the speed in which the emergency is treated. 2 million neurons die every minute of stroke. Time is brain. If you show any signs of stroke, go to a medical center that has everything you need to treat it.
- It only occurs in older people. False It is more frequent in older adults; however, it can be seen in newborns, children, adolescents and adults. In the last decade, the number of people over 35 years of age suffering from stroke has increased considerably due to unhealthy habits and low physical activity.
- Permanent stress is a triggering factor for stroke. True: Stress increases the level of cortisol in the blood. This hormone contributes to the elevation of blood pressure, the main modifiable risk factor for developing a stroke. This can be ischemic when the artery becomes occluded; or hemorrhagic, when the artery ruptures and the brain is flooded with blood. The latter is popularly known as a stroke. Ischemic stroke is the most common (85% of cases).
- Rehabilitation is only effective during the first 6 months after the stroke. False: It has been shown that the sooner the rehabilitation is started, the greater the patient’s recovery. During the first three months is where the greatest results can be observed, but it is suggested that physical therapy be for a longer time until the patient can recover completely or almost.
- People who have had a stroke have a high chance of having another within the first year. True: Stroke can recur if not diagnosed and treated correctly, especially in the first month.
Exercising regularly, having a balanced nutritional regimen, learning to manage anxiety and stress, avoiding alcohol and tobacco consumption, and controlling underlying chronic diseases are decisive factors in preventing strokes. Unlike some years, it is more and more common for young adults to suffer from this disease that can be avoided by acquiring a healthy lifestyle from childhood.
Dr. Manuel Moquillaza
Neurologist at Clinica Ricardo Palma