Ten Questions Answered on Brain Attack

  1. What is brain attack?
    Brain attack is another name coined for brain stoke. It is akin to heart attack. It hits the patient as a bolt from the blue. A normal healthy individual suddenly stops talking and is unable to move one half of his or her body. The situation is pretty devastating for the victim and to the family since many a time the victim would have been the sole breadwinner of the family.
  2. What are the predisposing factors for brain attack?
    There are many predisposing factors for brain attack. Diabetes and hypertension are the main culprits. Smoking and Alcoholism are other predisposing factors. Hypercholestrolemia, dyslipidemia, sedentary life style are other important predisposing factors. Now a days people are habituated to sedentary way of life. They tend to eat fast foods which contained unsaturated fatty acids and highly refined carbohydrates. All these factors play an important role in brain attack. Some rare congenital blood disorders and blood vessel abnormalities also play an important role.
  3. What are the symptoms of brain attack?
    The main symptoms of brain attack are sudden onset of the problem. There may be sudden deviation of the mouth with loss of speech and weakness of one side of the body. There is a mnemonic FAST meaning face, arm, speech and time. Time is added to stress the fact that time is very crucial as for as intervention is concerned.
  4. How fast should the patient with brain attack seek medical help?
    Patients suspected to have symptoms of brain should seek medical help on war footing. The treatment should commence in the first 3 to 6 hours for a possible good outcome. Even the emergency medicine departments should be geared up for this sort of hyper acute intervention. Lot of awareness programs should be conducted by medical personnel and paramedical personnel should be trained to act fast in transporting brain attack victims.
  5. Who should the patient approach in case of brain attack?
    Patients with brain attack should be ideally treated in a stroke unit. The cause of brain attack should be ascertained by a CT scan. The causes of brain attack are a clot in the brain , bleeding into the coverings of the brain called sub arachnoid hemorrhage, sudden cessation of blood circulation to some parts of the brain. Very rarely some tumors of the brain may present as brain attacks. The clots in the brain may be due to high blood pressure or due to some abnormality in blood vessels called arterio venous malformations.
  6. What are the different treatment options available for patients with brain attack?
    Once brain attack is diagnosed and the cause ascertained the treatment can be planned. If it to a blood clot depending on the size of the clot surgical excision can be planned. If it is due to an aneurysms it can be tackled by clipping or coiling. If it is due to a tumor the tumor can be tackled. If it is due to cessation of blood supply it should be tackled on war footing, because every minute counts here. CT scan and MRI should be done to rule out irreversible damage to the brain. Once it is ascertained clot busters can be administered. Patients should be transferred to cath lab and an emergent angiogram should be done. Angiograms would pick up the spot of the block inside the blood vessel. Clot busters can be injected at the level of the block. Sometimes a blood clot may be defined inside the blood vessel. These clots can be retrieved using special devices.
  7. Can patients with brain attack be completely cured?
    If treated in time patients presenting with brain attack can be completely cured. The patient should reach the hospital with in the window period. The hospital should be geared to tackle these emergencies. Time has come to have dedicated stroke units in all tertiary care centers. The dictum time is brain has been coined aptly.
  8. Do patients with brain attacks be under regular treatment?
    Yes. Patients with brain attack should be under regular treatment with a stroke specialist or a neurologist. Their diabetes and hypertension should be regularly monitored. They have to be on anti platelets and in some cases anti coagulants.
  9. What precautions do patients with brain attack need to take?
    These patients have to get their diabetes and hypertension under strict control. They should strictly abstain from smoking and alcoholism. Regular exercise like brisk walking, cycling and aerobics is a must to get cholesterol under control. They should be under regular follow up with a stroke specialist or a neurologist.
  10. Who are all involved in the treatment of patients with brain attack?
    These patients should be ideally treated in a stroke unit. A stroke unit consists of a neurologist, a neurosurgeon, a physiatrist, a radiologist and other para medical personnel, All these people should work in tandem for the betterment of these unfortunate victims.