Stroke is the reason many people live their lives in an extremely fragile manner. This is because a person who has suffered from a stroke is most likely to have another. This condition can be sudden, impactful, and life-threatening. India alone accounts for over 6.5 million stroke cases each year, and the number keeps rising rapidly. During the winter season, people with hypertension are more at risk of stroke, and the majority of them are not aware that stroke is more prevalent in men than other genders.
A stroke, in simple terms, is the damage that occurs to the brain when its blood supply is interrupted. The blood vessel to the brain can rupture, or there could be a blockage in the vessel, preventing the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain. This rapidly damages and kills brain cells, resulting in many complications: the patient may become paralyzed, have problems with coordination and balance, and live life in a fragile state, as 1 in 4 people who have had a stroke will have another one. Stroke also causes extreme fatigue for the next few weeks, along with pain, numbness, and weakness.
Factors like hypertension, smoking, diabetes, and stress can lead to stroke. There are certain factors that increase the risk of stroke in men more than in women. These are:
1. Diabetes: A very high prevalence of the disease is recorded in the country each year, which also means that more men are being diagnosed with diabetes. More than half the men in the country are likely to develop diabetes at some point in their lives. High glucose levels in diabetics damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of stroke.
2. Smoking: Tobacco and smoking cigarettes are known to damage blood vessels and cause lung problems. The percentage of men smoking is way higher, at about 42%, compared to women, who stand at 14%.
3. Sedentary lifestyle: Most men over 40 live a sedentary life and work under stressful conditions. Lack of physical activity, along with other health factors like being overweight, contributes to causing a stroke.
4. Alcohol misuse: Drinking alcoholic beverages has become a part of socializing and life in general. Men and boys begin to develop these habits at a young age but drinking alcoholic beverages on a regular basis is extremely dangerous, with stroke being one of the most serious risks.
Most factors increasing the risk of stroke in men come from lifestyle habits that can be improved with some effort and knowledge. Being aware of the early signs of stroke, like numbness or tingling in the extremities, headaches, and balance disorientation, is important to avoid an actual stroke attack. Also, remembering the FAST rule for stroke can save a person's life. FAST stands for Face, Arm, Speech, and Time and is used to quickly test if a person is experiencing a stroke. If a person is experiencing numbness or paralysis on the Face and Arm and is unable to Speak clearly, then it is Time to call for medical help.
(Dr. Satwant Singh Sachdeva, Senior Consultant- Neurology, Manipal Hospitals, Patiala)
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