Regular medication, exercise key to prevent second stroke

Interview/ Dr Girish Baburao Kulkarni, professor, NIMHANS, Bengaluru

Dr Girish Baburao Kulkarni Dr Girish Baburao Kulkarni

Is a second stroke always stronger than the first one? Does it lead to permanent damage?

Second stroke occurs in a brain already damaged or impaired by the first stroke, so most of the time the disability will be more [severe] and also the chances of recovery bleak.

How difficult is it to survive or bounce back to normal life after a second stroke?

Almost 30 per cent of stroke patients die, and 30 to 40 per cent of patients will be disabled.

How does one prevent the occurrence of a second stroke?

By identifying the risk factor and treating the same, and also by having a healthy lifestyle, avoiding bad habits and taking supervised medications.

What are the chances of patients having a stroke within ten years of the first one?

As per various studies, the risk of recurrence of stroke was 3.1 per cent at 30 days, 11.1 per cent at one year, 26.4 per cent at 5 years, and 39.2 per cent at 10 years after the initial stroke.

Are Indians more prone to having a stroke now than before?

Stroke occurs earlier in Indians compared to those in the west and the prevalence of stroke among the youth is also more. The reason being increasing prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, poor nutrition and non compliance to medications.

What factors contribute to the occurrence of a second stroke?

Uncontrolled diabetes, blood pressure, high lipids, untreated heart diseases, obesity, smoking, alcohol and poor nutrition.

Are women more prone to stroke than men?

Men are more prone to stroke than women in reproductive age. But certain strokes are more common in women like venous strokes, which may occur during pregnancy, delivery and consumption of hormonal contraceptive pills.

What is the age group that is the most vulnerable to a stroke?

Stroke can occur at any age, but it is more common in the fifties and sixties. In developing countries, stroke among those below 45 years is high because of the economic burden.

The youngest stroke patient you treated?

I treated a one-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl. But their number is less.

How long does it take to recover from a stroke?

The most rapid recovery usually occurs during the first three to four months after a stroke, but some stroke survivors continue to recover well into the first and second year post stroke. Fifty to sixty per cent of patients who have suffered stroke for the first time will recover. Thirty to forty per cent of second stroke patients will recover.

Any advice you would like to give our readers?

Identification of stroke for layperson: Look for any acute weakness of limbs and inability to speak.

Concept of stroke-ready hospital: If stroke is due to a clot, clot bursting therapy can be given. Go to a stroke-ready hospital with 24 hours availability of CT scan and stroke-trained doctors and nurses.

Prevention of second stroke: Regular medication, exercise and avoiding alcohol and smoking.

Primary prevention (before stroke happens): Checking for blood pressure and diabetes. Also helpful will be exercise, healthy diet and awareness.