Surge in Stroke Cases During Winter in Mumbai

This year, owing to cold wave in Mumbai and Maharashtra, there was a gradual increase in the stroke cases. 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.

Surge in Stroke Cases During Winter in Mumbai
(Representational Image) Surge in Stroke Cases During Winter in Mumbai

Incidences of stroke are linked to certain conditions. Winter season leads to a plethora of health problems and one of them is stroke. 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.

Winter tends to affect one’s health in various ways and causes a sudden upsurge in the cases of Ischemic stroke (where the blood supply to one’s brain is cut off because of clot formation) and hemorrhagic strokes (wherein the blood vessel bursts in the brain and there is bleeding).

This year, owing to cold wave-like conditions in Mumbai and Maharashtra, there was a gradual increase in the stroke cases.

“There is a strong association between winter and brain strokes (paralysis). It has been reported that colder weather constricts the blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure – a major risk factor for stroke. However, 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. Ever since the winter season has set in there is a sudden spurt in the number of stroke cases that have sought treatment at Wockhardt Hospital Mira Road. There was a record with 70 percent increase in patients admitted in the month of December 2022, who had stroke; in which 25 percent patients were thrombolysed in a window period of 4.5 hours and 14 percent underwent a disability and life-saving procedure called Mechanical Thrombectomy within 6 hours of stroke onset,” said Dr Pavan Pai, Consultant Interventional Neurologist & Stroke Specialist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road.

Dr Pai added, “It is alarming to note that there were 14 percent patients below 30 years and 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."

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 to recover and improve your quality of life. 

Dr Anil Venkitachalam, Neurologist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital, Chembur said, "One can take certain measures to cut down the risk of stroke during winter. Eat well, quit smoking, have adequate sleep, and consult the doctor as soon as the weather changes (in case of existing Hypertensive patients) as the blood pressure control medication dosage needs to be adjusted. One will have to eat a low-salt diet to manage blood pressure. Exercise indoors, stay warm and dress in layers.

 "Winter will make you prone to various health issues. It can also cause a spurt in cases of stroke along with cardiac ailments. The incidence of ischemic stroke is on the rise in winter. It is a shocking fact that cold weather tends to constrict one’s blood vessels and thus that in turn will lead to high blood pressure that invites a stroke. Moreover, even youngsters are getting a stroke during winter. The other risk factors for a stroke are stress, a sedentary lifestyle, traumatic brain injury, and heart disease. It is the need of the hour to control the blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels that can raise the risk of stroke in the near future. Not only this, one should 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.
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