What is stroke?
In Malaysia, stroke was recorded as the second leading cause of death according to the Malaysian National Burden of Diseases Study and study on vital registry system in 2000.5A stroke happens when there is a sudden interruption of continuous blood flow to the brain, caused by a clot or bursts of a blood vessel in the brain. When stroke happens, reduced oxygen and nutrients supply as well as sudden bleeding in the brain cause brain cells damage or death, and this can happen within minutes. Hence, stroke requires immediate medical attention.1
Image adapted from source: Op2Lysis
There are two main types of stroke3 :
Hemorrhagic stroke (accounts for approximately 20% of strokes)
When an artery in the brain bursts and blood gushes into or around the brain
Caused by conditions like hypertension and cerebral amyloid angiopathy or irregularities in the brain’s vascular system.
Damage brain tissue by either
Increased pressure inside the skull (intracranial pressure) or
Brain tissue exposed to the toxic substances in the blood mass
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) occurs when the blood flow to part of brain is cut off temporarily, which then dissipates after a short amount of time. The stroke symptoms usually begin to fade in less than 20 minutes, and often disappear within an hour. Although the damage from a TIA is confined to a small region in brain, it is an important sign that a larger, more serious stroke could occur soon. It is noted that about 1 in 3 people who experience a TIA will have a stroke sometime in the future, with the majority happening within a year after the TIA.3
Therefore, never ignore an episode of TIA. Immediate action can make a difference in avoiding lifelong disabilities or potentially save a life.3
Signs and symptoms 8
It is important to know the signs and symptoms of stroke and call for medical help as soon as possible in order to save a relative, neighbour, friend, or even a stranger’s life. Timely treatment allows higher possibility of survival and to greatly reduce and reverse the damage to the brain.
Image adapted from source: American Stroke Association
Prevention to lower risk 4, 9
A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death, and this depends on how much brain tissue is damaged.
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