Estimates suggest that 8% of all first-ever strokes occur in Africa and that 5% of the 30 million stroke survivors worldwide live in Africa.The prevalence of stroke might increase in the future because of changes in exposure to major stroke risk factors and improved prevention and control of infectious diseases.
According to the latest WHO data published in may 2014 Stroke Deaths in Cameroon reached 10,889 or 5.03% of total deaths. The age adjusted Death Rate is 115.50 per 100,000 of population ranks Cameroon #62 in the world.
Stroke is a clinical condition caused by interruption of blood flow to a part of the brain, or by sudden bleeding into the brain.
Brain cells cannot function without oxygen. Oxygen is transferred to the brain by blood. So if blood flow is interrupted, oxygen will not get to the brain, consequently, brain cells will stop functioning. Lack of oxygen to the brain even for a few minutes damages brain cells. The brain cells control different parts of the body. Once brain cells are damaged or they die because of a stroke, effects of that damaged start to show in the parts of the body controlled by those brain cells.
Most strokes are caused by a blockage in the blood vessel that carries blood with oxygen to a part of the brain. This type of stroke is called an ischemic stroke.
If blood flow to the brain is blocked only for a few minutes and then relieved, it can lead to a mini-stroke also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). In cases of a mini stroke, the symptoms last for less than 24 hours. A mini stroke is usually a warning sign of a future major stroke and so it should be taken very seriously.
The second main type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel leaks blood or is broken and blood leaks to the brain, puts pressure on the brain cells in that area and damages them. This type of stroke is called hemorrhagic stroke.
How do you know that someone is having a stroke?
The signs of a stroke are usually sudden.
• Sudden confusion
• Sudden trouble speaking or seeing
• Sudden trouble understanding what someone else is saying or saying things that cannot be understood.
• Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg, usually on one side of the
• Drooling sputum from one side of their mouth
• Difficulties walking, unable to maintain balance, falling or just feeling dizzy
• Severe sudden headaches, which some people describe as the worst headaches of their life
What should I do if someone is having a stroke?
ACT FAST! GET MEDICAL HELP REALLY FAST!
Any form of stroke is a medical emergency. Time is the most valuable resource someone has when having a stroke. Seek medical attention right away.
1 in every 3 people who have a mini stroke and do not receive treatment will have a major stroke within one year. 1 in 10 of them actually has the stroke within the next 3 months.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR HAVING A STROKE?
• High blood pressure
• High Cholesterol
• Heart diseases like irregular heartbeats (Atrial Fibrillation ) or narrowing of some blood vessels
• Older age
• Gender: women have more strokes than men
• Race, black people are more likely to have a stroke as compared to white people
• People who have had a stroke or mini stroke are more likely to have a stroke than those who have never had a stroke
• People who have blood relative who have had a stroke or mini stroke
• People with enlarged blood vessels in the brain (brain aneurisms) or mal- formed blood vessels (arteriovenous malformations or AVMs) in the brain
• Sickle cell disease
• Some drugs like cocaine or amphetamines
Special risk factors for stroke in women include:
. Use of birth control pills
. History of preeclampsia/eclampsia
. Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
. Oral contraceptive use
. Post-menopausal hormone therapy
HOW CAN STROKE BE PREVENTED
• Eating a healthy diet
• Maintaining a healthy weight through a healthy diet and exercise
• Avoiding tobacco use or even second hand smoke
• Limiting alcohol use
• Controlling blood pressure (taking your medications and eating right) for people with high blood pressure
• Controlling blood sugars for people with diabetes
• Avoiding high fat diets
GOOD TO KNOW
Stroke can occur at any age but it is more frequent in older people
Several drugs can cause someone to have a stroke (cocaine, amphetamines etc)
Some common medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for example ibuprofen may increase the risk of stroke or heart attack
Prof. Akwe’s coner