Winter And Brain Stroke: Most Strokes Are Due To Blood Clotting

Winter And Brain Stroke: Most Strokes Are Due To Blood Clotting
However, unlike a heart attack or a cardiac event, the individual reaches the hospital in time and survives the episode. They can walk out of the hospital after discharge and slowly resume their lives with some lifestyle changes.

Incidences of stroke are linked to certain conditions. Cases of brain strokes surge as the temperature drops. Experts explains the link between winter and stroke.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : January 28, 2023 4:31 PM IST

Winter season leads to a plethora of health problems and one of them is stroke. The cold weather tends to affect one's health in various ways and causes a sudden upsurge in the cases of brain strokes. When the temperature drops, the blood becomes thick and because of cold the thin tubes of arteries narrow and the pressure increases leading to a stroke. Awareness regarding stroke symptoms (B.E.F.A.S.T) and timely treatment within the first 4.5 hours of stroke can help one to recover promptly.

Types of strokes: Ischemic strokes occur when the blood supply to one's brain is cut off because of clot formation, whereas hemorrhagic strokes occur the blood vessel bursts in the brain and there is bleeding.

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Experts elaborate the link between winter and brain strokes

There is a strong association between winter and brain strokes (paralysis), according to Dr Pavan Pai, Consultant Interventional Neurologist & Stroke Specialist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road, Mumbai.

It has been reported that colder weather constricts the blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure a major risk factor for stroke. However, Dr Pai pointed out that most strokes are caused by blood clotting.

"Blood tends to thicken and become stickier during extreme cold, which makes it easier to clot. Most strokes are due to blood clotting, which blocks a blood vessel to the brain. Our bodies' reaction to cold weather tends to put added stress on the heart as we "clamp down" to preserve heat and energy. Air pollution and smog are commonly seen during winter, and these are the risk factors for stroke," he explained.

Record 70 per cent increase in stroke patients

Dr Pai shared that there has been a sudden spurt in the number of stroke cases reported at Wockhardt Hospital Mira Road ever since the winter season has set in.

The hospital witnessed a record 70 per cent increase in stroke patients in the month of December 2022, in which 25 per cent patients were thrombolysed in a window period of 4.5 hours and 14 per cent underwent a disability and life-saving procedure called Mechanical Thrombectomy within 6 hours of stroke onset, he said.

Many stoke patients were below 30 years

Of the total stroke patients admitted in December 2022 at the Mumbai hospital, 14 per cent were below 30 years, which is alarming, Dr Pai said.

Dr Pai added, "One of them had complete artery occlusion at 28 years of age and required mechanical thrombectomy after which she recovered completely and went home walking. There was one 26-year-old young patient from Palghar district, Maharashtra who received thrombolysis in time and another 64-year-old patient from Vasai who recovered completely after a mechanical thrombectomy. In fact, there were 3 patients who underwent successful mechanical thrombectomy in a span of 4 days."

Tips to cut down the risk of stroke during winter

Dr Anil Venkitachalam, Neurologist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital, Chembur recommend people to take certain measures to reduce the risk of stroke during winter.

  • Eat well
  • Quit smoking
  • Have adequate sleep
  • If you're a hypertensive patient, consult your doctor as soon as the weather changes (as blood pressure control medication dosage needs to be adjusted)
  • Eat a low-salt diet to manage blood pressure
  • Exercise indoors

It is a known fact that cold weather causes high blood pressure that invites a stroke. The other risk factors for a stroke are stress, a sedentary lifestyle, traumatic brain injury, and heart disease, Dr Venkitachalam noted.

It is important to control the blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels that can raise the risk of stroke, he said

"Not only this, but one should also embrace a well-balanced lifestyle. Try to keep yourself warm during winter, dress in layers, and cut down on smoking which can further constrict the blood vessels. Exposure to secondhand smoke can also raise one's chances of getting a stroke. It is imperative for everyone to take charge of their health and see that they stay hale and hearty," he added.

B.E.F.A.S.T andseek treatment within the golden hour

The experts want people to remember B.E.F.A.S.T (Balance Loss, Eyesight Blurring or Loss, Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties, and Time) and seek treatment within the golden hour of the stroke.