Stroke 101: Not a Romance Story


Aside from romantic love, a great Valentine story can also come in the form of loving yourself — by taking care of your health and getting to know the second deadliest disease not only in the Philippines but also in the world: stroke.

Health-related stroke isn’t exactly what comes to mind during Valentine season. But just as loving someone is essential, loving one’s self is equally important. Taking care of your health is an expression of love and a favor that you can do for yourself without any modicum of regret.

Awareness is key in being health-conscious. As we put the spotlight on stroke amid the COVID-19 pandemic, know that it is a health threat that has been present for the longest time and remains to be the second leading cause of death worldwide1 and in the Philippines.2

Getting-to-Know stage

Stroke, a cerebrovascular accident, is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and in the brain. It occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures.3

There are two types of stroke: Ischemic, which refers to a blockage in the brain’s blood supply, and Hemorrhagic, which refers to a leak or rupture in a blood vessel in the brain. Not to be overlooked is a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain that doesn’t cause permanent damage. However, one should treat TIA as a major health incident since it is a warning that a stroke is not far behind.4

It is particularly important to bear in mind the symptoms of stroke and what to do next through the acronym: “BE FAST”

B-Balance difficulty

E-Eye changes

F-Face drooping, crooked smile

A-Arm weak or numb

S-Slurred speech

T-Time to call an ambulance

If not treated in a timely manner, a stroke can have emotional, physical or even fatal consequences. A patient can either die of stroke or suffer permanent disability.

Loving Yourself

Dr. Greta Cortez, a cardiologist and a member of Stroke Society of the Philippines, outlines measures to minimize the risk factors of stroke.

Stroke Society of the Philippines is an organization of physicians, nurses and other allied health care personnel who have special interest in stroke care, education and research.

“First bucket of any illness is lifestyle modification. Before you start with medicines and do any other treatment, you first do intervention sa lifestyle. Prevention is the key and decreases the risks of stroke. We have the so-called modifiable risk factors which pertain to lifestyle choices. These include avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and exercising,” Dr. Cortez said.

“There are also risk factors that are non-modifiable. You cannot change your gender, age, family history and ethnicity. Halimbawa, habang tumatatanda ang mga tao especially when you hit 65, your risk of stroke doubles. If there is a strong family history of not just stroke but also of cardiac diseases, usually there is already a high risk of stroke based on your genetics,” she added.

Loving yourself means making those difficult but healthier lifestyle choices. It also means guarding yourself from temptations that would ultimately harm your health such as drinking alcohol and smoking.

Seeking Urgent Intervention

Angels Initiative, a global healthcare initiative spearheaded by Boehringer Ingelheim to increase the number and optimize the quality of stroke treatment at acute stroke centers, aims to also educate the general public on stroke, its dangers and how it should be treated as a medical emergency.

When one experiences symptoms of stroke, the next crucial step is to treat it as an emergency and seek urgent medical intervention by going to the hospital.

Stroke is considered a time-sensitive disease because for every minute it is left untreated, up to two million brain cells can die.5 At the onset of symptoms, the condition should be attended to at the soonest time possible. Immediate and timely treatment of stroke can minimize the long-term effects of stroke and help save lives.

Both the Angels Initiative and Stroke Society of the Philippines urge the public to rush a person exhibiting stroke symptoms to the nearest hospital for emergency treatment.

For a complete list of stroke-ready hospitals near you, visit the Stroke Society of the Philippines website

About the Writer
Grace C. Diez

Grace Diez started as an AM/FM radio traffic reporter and broadcast supervisor of before pursuing a 5-year career in advertising and a 9-year (and counting!) career in public relations. With 17 years of experience as a writer, her works have been published on People Asia, Metro.Style, ABS-CBN Lifestyle, Star Studio, Metro Magazine, Manila Bulletin, The Philippine Star, Working Mom, Chalk.PH, League Magazine, Sense & Style, Woman Today and Manila Standard with editors entrusting her with cover stories and CEO/celebrity profiling assignments. She loves IU, Taylor Swift, coffee, milk tea, Dr. Pepper and cookies.

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