About 90% of strokes can be prevented with lifestyle changes

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Provided timely action is taken, a stroke can leave a person with permanent disabilities

New Delhi, 18 May 2018: Statistics indicate that 15% of all strokes are caused by hemorrhagic stroke when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, leading to permanent damage. While all people with acute stroke benefit from treatment on a stroke unit, there is currently no specific treatment for hemorrhagic stroke and unfortunately many people affected will die within a few days.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when blood from an artery begins bleeding into the brain. Pressure from the leaked blood damages brains cells, and, as a result, the damaged area is unable to function properly.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “There are two types of weakened blood vessels that can cause hemorrhagic stroke: aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). An aneurysm is a ballooning of a weakened region of a blood vessel. If left untreated, the aneurysm continues to weaken until it ruptures and bleeds into the brain. AVM, on the other hand, is a cluster of abnormally formed blood vessels. Any one of these vessels can rupture, also causing bleeding into the brain. It is important to treat strokes as quickly as possible. With a hemorrhagic stroke, the first steps are to find the cause of bleeding in the brain and then control it. Surgery may be needed. Post-stroke rehabilitation can help people overcome disabilities caused by stroke damage.”

Some symptoms of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body); confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding speech; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and severe headache with no known cause.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “Two main causes for hemorrhagic strokes include uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) and overtreatment with anticoagulants (blood thinners). Apart from this, it is also important to manage certain lifestyle-based risk factors such as obesity, inactivity, consumption of alcohol, and use of drugs. Depending upon the duration for which the brain lacks blood flow and which part was affected, a stroke can even cause permanent disabilities.”

Some tips from HCFI.

Stroke is preventable. About 90% of strokes are associated with 10 risks factors that are modifiable.

Control high blood pressure
Do moderate exercise 5 times a week
Eat a healthy balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium
Reduce your cholesterol
Maintain a healthy BMI or waist-to-hip ratio
Stop smoking and avoid second hand exposure
Reduce alcohol intake
Identify and treat atrial fibrillation
Reduce your risk from diabetes talk to your doctor
Get educated about stroke

Incessant noise can disrupt the body at a cellular level

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Noise is recognized environmental stressor and can exacerbate certain existing health conditions

New Delhi, 16 May 2018: According to a review of the underlying mechanisms that lead to noise-induced heart disease, environmental noise from traffic and aircraft disrupts the body on the cellular level to raise heart disease risk factors. Sound pollution can cause metabolic abnormalities and autonomic imbalance, characterized by dizziness and exercise intolerance. Exposure to this noise can also lead to behavioral issues in children.

Dust mixed with toxic fumes from vehicular exhausts can exacerbate lung and heart diseases and trigger death from heart attack, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung infections like pneumonia, and cancers of the lung and respiratory tract.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, ” Noise is an unwanted intrusive sound. A loud noise is 85 db or higher, or if a person has to raise his/her voice to speak with someone standing at a distance of 3 feet. Noise is a recognized environmental stressor, which has both physiological and psychological effects. It is associated with anxiety, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, insomnia, annoyance, stress. Progressive hearing loss may result from continuous and repeated exposure to loud noise. The safe limit for sounds at 85 db or less is 8 hours of exposure. Loud noise affects speech intelligibility and consequently work performance and increases chances of errors. Conversation has to be conducted at higher dbs for clear speech communication because of noise interference.”

People living in areas with high traffic noise are also 25% more likely than those in quieter neighborhoods to have symptoms of depression such as sadness, loneliness and trouble concentrating.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “Hospitals are noisy work places. Control of noise levels is very important in hospitals for patient well-being and healing. Noise creates an unhealthy work environment for doctors. It affects concentration and increases the chances of mistakes, which can be costly for the doctors and hospitals. Inability to hear the warning patient monitoring alarm over the general background noise in an ICU may have potentially disastrous outcome. Moreover, doctors too are prone to develop high BP and other negative effects on health.”
Some HCFI tips to reduce noise pollution.
• Traffic flow around schools and hospitals should be minimized as much as possible.
• Signboards displaying ‘Silence zone’, ‘No honking’ must be placed near these areas.
• Efforts should be made to ban the use of horns with jarring sounds, motorbikes with damaged exhaust pipes, and noisy trucks.
• The use of loudspeakers in parties and discos, as well as public announcements systems should be checked and discouraged.
• Noise rules must be stringent and strictly enforced near such silence zones.
• Planting trees along roads and in residential areas is a good way to reduce noise pollution as they absorb sound.

Atrial fibrillation can increase the risk of stroke in people

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It is important to continue with treatment even after heart rhythm returns to normal

New Delhi, 14th May 2018: Patients with an irregular heart rhythm, which puts them at a higher risk for stroke, still need treatment even after their heart rhythm seems to have returned to normal, according to a recent study.[1]

People with atrial fibrillation (AF) are much more likely to develop blood clots and suffer from strokes. To avoid strokes it is important for them to take drugs to prevent blood clotting.

AF is the most common heart rhythm disturbance. Those with this condition may be aware of noticeable heart palpitations, where their heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly. Sometimes it does not cause any symptoms and a person who has it is completely unaware that their heart rate is irregular.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “The first manifestation of AF can be a stroke. Often, the first time you learn that patients have AF is when they present with a stroke. AF is responsible for 20% to 33% of all strokes and 20% to 45% of patients who have an AF–related stroke did not have a prior diagnosis of AF. A single ECG or pulse check to screen for incidental ambulatory AF in those >65 years would detect 1.4% of individuals with AF both in the general population and clinic. Incidentally, detected AF in asymptomatic and ambulatory patients is associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke, MI and all–cause mortality, but treating the detected arrhythmia with oral anticoagulants can significantly improve the prognosis of these patients.”

Some symptoms of atrial fibrillation include racing or pounding heart, excessive anxiety, sense of breathlessness, fatigue, lightheadedness, and syncope.

Adding further, Dr Balbir Singh Chairman Electrophysiology and Pacing at Medanta , said, “As with other conditions, the best way to manage your heart health is to make sure you see your doctor regularly and reduce the risks. Lifestyle changes made at a younger age can go a long way in preventing any damage to the heart. It is imperative to inculcate such habits right from the childhood. Elders can set an appropriate example by eating, drinking, and living healthy. Once an Af is noted every effort must be made to revert it to sinus rhythm by drugs or ablation”

Some tips from HCFI

Quit smoking and drinking as they are two major factors in causing damage to the heart.
Manage your cholesterol levels as any imbalance in this can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Keep a check on vitals such as blood pressure and blood sugar. Any fluctuations in these can directly impact the heart in the longer term.
Ensure that you get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
Eat a variety of healthy food including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

[1] Study by University of Birmingham

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