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How Fast Can Stroke Cause Brain Damage?

Posted Mar 08 2011 10:03am
A stroke, sometimes also known as brain attack, occurs when there is an interruption of blood supply to any part of the brain because of blockage or burst in one of the blood vessels in the brain. If the brain cannot get blood and oxygen, the brain cells could die and permanent damage would be caused within a relatively short period.

Stroke is one of the top killer s in the developed countries. In Canada, stroke ranks the fourth leading cause of death, affecting as many as 50,000 people and killing 16,000 every year. Risk factors for stroke include alcoholism, diabetes, high cholesterol, overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and stress.

So how fast can stroke damage the brain?
Common public perception believes that all strokes can be medically treated within 3 hours, but scientists from the University of British Columbia in this Western Canadian city reported otherwise. Their study, which was funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, found that stroke could cause brain damage within 3 minutes.
Generally, stroke can be categorized into 2 types: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are those caused by interruption of the blood supply, while hemorrhagic strokes are those that result from rupture of a blood vessel or an abnormal vascular structure.
About 80 percent of stroke patients suffer ischemic stroke, which can usually be treated by clot-busting medications, provided if they could be admitted to the hospital within 3 hours. In reality, not every stroke patient is a candidate for clot-busting drugs.
Based on the results obtained from animal experiments performed, the scientists declared that brain could be damaged within 3 minutes. Such 3-minute window does not give people sufficient time to even call for help.
Preventive measures, therefore, are urgently required to tackle structural changes that happen very early on. People just need to manage risk factors and change their lifestyle to prevent getting a stroke, instead of relying on treatment when stroke strikes them.
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