Abu Dhabi: If a mini stroke is left untreated, the risk of the person suffering a full-blown stroke is 10 per cent in the first month after the attack.
This is why residents should be aware of the symptoms of mini strokes, which are frequently followed by a permanent stroke, the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has warned ahead of World Stroke Day, marked worldwide on October 29.
Nearly 15 per cent of stroke victims have previously experienced mini strokes or transient ischemic attacks, doctors at the Abu Dhabi-based health facility said in a statement. The highest risk of a full-blown stroke after a mini stroke that is left untreated is in the first two days. People who experience a mini stroke should go to the Emergency Department immediately, even if symptoms resolve quickly. In the UAE, strokes are known to occur 10 years earlier than in the West.
“Since the symptoms go away completely - sometimes very quickly - it is often tempting to think that they are not serious. On the contrary, these are important warning signs and a mini stroke could be a strong indication that a more severe stroke is on the way. Immediate treatment may prevent a permanent stroke. It is therefore essential to grasp the opportunity a mini stroke provides to seek medical advice immediately,” said Dr. Victoria Mifsud, neurologist and director of the Stroke Programme at CCAD. The CCAD is the designated stroke centre for Abu Dhabi.
Mini strokes mimic the symptoms of a full-blown stroke, and are caused by an interruption in the blood flow to part of the brain. These symptoms include weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body, slurred speech, and sudden difficulty talking. A sudden severe headache, loss of vision and a loss of balance could also indicate a stroke or mini stroke. Unlike a stroke, which can make the symptoms permanent, symptoms of a mini stroke go away completely after a short period, with no lasting damage.
People who suspect they or someone they know might be having a stroke should dial 999 or call an ambulance immediately.
Younger patients in UAE
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide, despite the fact that up to 80 per cent of strokes are preventable. One in four people experience a stroke during their lifetime. While the global average age of a stroke victim is over 65, the average age in the UAE is younger due to the high prevalence of risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. In fact, half of all stroke patients in the country are under the age of 45, according to one estimate.
“Strokes may be preventable through lifestyle changes and proper management of chronic conditions. In a way, a mini stroke serves as a wake-up call that allows patients to work with their doctor to manage their risk factors and improve their overall health. Preventing stroke means patients can avoid the life altering complications it can cause,” said Dr Mifsud.
People at increased risk of stroke or who have experienced a mini stroke require close management of their risk factors and any underlying conditions that contribute to them. In addition, lifestyle changes that reduce their risk of stroke are highly beneficial, including eating a balanced diet, regular exercise and quitting smoking.