Learn to save the golden hoursNovember 9, 2020
A stroke is a medical emergency as it can lead to death or permanent disability. Though there are many modern treatments available for brain disorders in India today, stroke alone kills as many as 7 lakh Indians every year due to delayed treatment. More often, this delay is caused by one reason: a failure to identify the disease. While we can’t expect the common man or non-medical people to have the skill-set to avoid this mistake, natural delays like mistaking the patients’ symptoms by family members or onlookers for other non-emergency issues, wasting time on home remedies, traffic blocks, long distances from home or an accident location to the nearest doct and so on are always a possibility before the patient finds urgent medical care. But the most unacceptable part is the delay within the medical setup due to the non-identification of the symptoms or mishandling of the case, even after the patient is brought there on time. As we all know, providing timely medical care is critically important in case of stroke and only that can save the patient’s life. Hence, saving the golden hours of the patient is primarily the responsibility of you and me, as we are in the profession of care.
A brain stroke can have many causes, including heredity. Stress, lack of exercise, constant drinking and smoking can also contribute to the disease. The symptoms of stroke include paralysis, numbness or weakness in the arm, face, and leg, especially on one side of the body, trouble in speaking or understanding speech, confusion, slurring speech or vision problems such as trouble seeing in one or both eyes with vision blackened or blurred or double vision, trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination, dizziness and severe and sudden headaches of unknown cause.
At the onset of the disease, headaches and dizziness, or frequent dizziness, need to be treated immediately with the advice of a neuro expert. So, there shouldn’t be any delay in action once you identify the symptoms. From the onset of the symptoms, there is only a 3-to-4.5-hour window to use clot-busting drugs or a 6-hour window to do a mechanical thrombectomy (if needed). So, identifying the disease at the earliest and enabling the right medical intervention with the help of a specialist (in person or through telemedicine) is very critical. However, understanding this criticality and saving these golden hours is more crucial to save a life. Getting ourselves prepared to deal with this emergency and making the public too aware of the criticality of stroke is our responsibility.
Neurosurgeon, Apex Superspecialty Hospitals, Mumbai