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Stroke Needs Immediate Medical Attention, Experts Warn 

By Carole Binui & Sarah Nduma Ekema* — Experts in neurosurgery have warned that stroke needs immediate medical attention. Dr. Kingsly Enoh Nkongho, a neurosurgeon, defined stroke as the sudden interruption in the blood supply to the brain.

“Stroke occurs immediately and requires immediate treatment. Some strokes are caused by bleeding into the brain tissue, when a blood vessel bursts; others are caused by an abrupt blockage of arteries leading to the brain. The effects of stroke depend on what part of the brain is injured and how severely it is injured. Stroke may cause a sudden weakness, difficulty in speaking, seeing and walking.

Dr. Enoh Nkongho said the symptoms of stroke include: dizziness, loss of balance or organisation, severe headache with no known cause and vomiting. “Since different parts of the brain control different areas and functions, it is usually the area immediately surrounding the stroke that is affected.

Sometimes people with stroke have a headache but stroke can also be completely painless. It is very important to recognise the warning signs of stroke, and get immediate medical attention, if they occur,” he said. He also explained that stroke is a sudden onset in the brain, a deficit which can be sensual, that is, can affect a person’s speech, sight or movement that lasts for more than twenty-four hours.

“If there is a bleeding in these areas, this is what causes the problem,” Dr. Enoh said, adding that “hypertension causes mostly stroke; that is, patients who are hypertensive could be more affected. Middle-aged and elderly persons are more vulnerable to stroke. Diabetic patients can also be affected by stroke.”

To avoid stroke, Enoh said, a regular medical check-up is necessary for everyone, for example monthly; after six months the blood should be checked. Foods containing much cholesterol or fats, he advised, should be avoided and when someone is diagnosed with stroke, they should always follow the doctor’s advice.

If there is too much damage in the brain, it is difficult to be managed, Dr. Enoh said, “but if it is a little damaged, it can be managed and the patient can recover completely.” Dr. Mbom, a neurologist at the Laquintinie Hospital in Douala, says one needs to know his or her problem, that is, obtain medical history through physical examination, checking one’s pulse and blood pressure and examine the rest of the body.

He said with the results, one may need an additional test to fully understand their problem.
Dr. Ivan Nkeng, an endocrinologist still at the Laquintinie Hospital, holds that the age group for stroke is 40 years, where it can be managed, to 60 years, where it is severe and can only be controlled. He explained that most of the stroke patients being treated in the hospital are diabetics. Dr. Lynda Tchidjo Ngamo of the St Veronica’s Clinic in Boduma said: “Stroke is a blockage in the circulation of blood on one particular part in the brain.

They are two types; the case where one of the brain vessels just bursts as a result of bleeding in the brain (haemorrhagic stroke), secondly, the type which occurs when blood clots in the brain in a portion responsible or that is under the circulation of blood. Dr. Tchidjo risk factors that could be responsible like; smoking, consumption of alcohol, illegal drug use, contraceptives, fatness and age. Other cases include people who have diabetics and sickle cell patients.

The doctor said stroke can be managed when these risk factors are avoided, apart from age. For stroke to be managed, the first seven days are very important to the patient. It depends on the side of the brain that is affected. At this stage, nursing care is very important and the point of managing the nursing care for the first one week.

Tchidjo further explained that one of the problems facing stroke patients in Buea is the lack of Computerised Topographic scanning; hence patients need to travel to Douala for scanning. Taking care of a stroke patient is also very challenging, she maintained, to the nursing process because the patients sometimes cannot not talk, move or see.

*(ASMAC & UB Students on Internship)

First published in The Post print edition no 01369