World Stroke Day 2023: Learn About Strokes, Their Treatment and Prevention


New Delhi (India), October 25: World Stroke Day, observed on 29th October, aimed at raising awareness about strokes, their prevention, treatment, and the importance of taking action to reduce the incidence and impact of strokes. Let’s delve into the complex world of strokes, shedding light on the intricacies of this neurological emergency.

What is a Stroke?

A Stroke or a Brain attack defined as the sudden onset of brain tissue damage either due to blockage of a blood vessel or rupture of a blood vessel. It is a neurological emergency.

It is the 2nd most common cause of death and disability in the world after Heart disease.1 However, the burden of stroke on the family is much more than that of heart disease. The latest data from 2018 revealed that one in every 4th person will have a stroke in his lifetime.

What are the types of Stroke?

Stroke could be of 2 types:

Ischemic Stroke (Brain infarct) – Here there is blockage of a blood vessel supplying the brain due to a thrombus following cholesterol deposition or due to a clot arising from the heart chambers or from vessels pumping blood from the heart into the brain. This constitutes 87% of all strokes.

Hemorrhagic Stroke (Brain hemorrhage) – Here there is a rupture of a blood vessel supplying the brain which leads to accumulation of blood in the brain tissue or surrounding the brain. This constitutes 13% of all strokes.

Is a Stroke the same as a Heart attack?

No, they are different entities. Heart attack occurs solely due to blockage of the blood vessels supplying the heart hence leading to heart tissue damage. However, many of the factors predisposing to a heart attack also increase the likelihood of a brain attack. Also, a heart attack can lead to the travelling of the clot to the brain leading to a stroke.

How does a Stroke present?

An ischemic stroke may commonly present with a sudden onset of weakness of one limb or one side of the body, slurring of speech, loss of facial symmetry or inability to speak. Less commonly it may also present with sudden onset double vision, loss of balance, giddiness, swallowing difficulties and irrelevant talk.

A brain haemorrhage in addition to the above complaints will also cause severe headaches, vomiting and a dip in consciousness levels.

What is a Transient ischemic attack?

A transient ischemic attack is a minor ischemic event of reduced blood supply to the brain where the symptoms recover completely within 24 hours. It is a warning sign for a possible major ischemic stroke in the future and needs to be taken seriously and investigated in detail.

What are the risk factors for a stroke?

A stroke may occur due to genetic causes. Elderly males, postmenopausal females, black race are all at a higher risk for stroke.

Other common risk factors include obesity, physical inactivity, tobacco consumption, cigarette smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and disorders of heart valves or heart rhythm.

Are there any warning signs for the common man to identify a stroke early?

Certain mnemonics help make Stroke identification easy such as; B.E.F.A.S.T – Balance loss, Eyesight changes, Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call an ambulance.

What are tests done to confirm a Stroke?

Whenever a person shows signs of a stroke, he should be taken to a hospital immediately. A CT scan or an MRI of the brain is required to confirm and classify it as an infarct or haemorrhage.

How do you treat an ischemic stroke?

In ischemic stroke management, Time( from onset of symptoms to hospitalization) is absolutely vital in decidingthe management plan. An Ischemic stroke, if recognised within 4.5 hours of its occurrence, can be treated with certain injectable drugs that dissolve the clot. If the clot is large and does not dissolve with medication, it can also be removed or aspirated within 6 hours using special devices employed with newer non-invasive endovascular techniques (mechanical thrombectomy).

The above time windows may vary in special situations.

In cases where this time period is exceeded, oral blood thinning medications and lipid lowering agents are given. Optimizing blood pressure , ensuring good sugar control and avoiding addictions form important pillars of stroke management. Also a good holistic neuro rehabilitation programme including physiotherapy , occupational therapy ,balance training and speech therapy sets the tone for a speedy recovery.

What is secondary stroke prevention?

Secondary stroke prevention consists of measures used to prevent the recurrence of a second stroke.

These include lifestyle measures such as a healthy, fat-free diet, physical activity such as 30 minutes of brisk walking and de-addiction. Adherence to medication, especially sugar and blood pressure medications, blood thinners and lipid-lowering drugs, is also a must.

World Stroke day

29th October is celebrated the world over as World Stroke Day. The theme this year of ‘Greater than Stroke’ which highlights the importance of the prevention of stroke by managing modifiable risk factors of a stroke. It also emphasizes on quick symptom recognition and early treatment initiation.


Issued in public interest by Medtronic. Views expressed are independent views of the Dr Sanat R Bhatkar intended for general information and educational purposes only and is not medical advice.

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