At least 25 persons suffer a stroke every day in Chennai. Of this, seven persons survive and go on to lead a normal life after treatment while three are likely to die out of complications; the remaining 15 will go on to lead a totally dependent life, owing to permanent disabilities, hence raising the need for early identification of symptoms and prompt treatment, say experts.

“The incidence of stroke is 125 per 100,000 population per year. The difference between stroke and myocardial infarction is that the former leaves visible effects — the body being weakened on one side and inability to speak. The morbidity is enormous. When a breadwinner of a family suffers a stroke, the socio-economic impact is huge,” M. Dhanraj, head, Neurology, Apollo Hospitals told reporters on Monday.

With World Stroke Day being observed on Tuesday, experts stressed the need for awareness on risk factors, early identification of stroke symptoms and immediate medical help. The key is to act FAST – an acronym for sudden Facial weakness, drifting of Arms, Speech disturbances and Time is important — he said.

“Do not wait as time is brain when it comes to stroke. The person should be rushed to a hospital with the required medical facilities for managing stroke within 4.5 hours to start treatment,” he added.

N. Sathyabhama, medical director of Apollo Hospitals, Chennai region, said hypertension and diabetes increased the risk of stroke and cardiac ailments. “If we keep a check on diabetes and hypertension, we can prevent and postpone a lot of diseases,” she said.

Every second is important as the person could lose millions of neurons, M. Saravanan, head of department, Interventional Neuro Radiology and Vascular Interventional Radiology, Apollo Hospitals said. He added that once the patient is brought to a hospital, the neurologist would assess the condition and administer the clot-busting drug.

On its part, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Tamil Nadu, will educate its 30,000 members across the State on stroke and through them, take awareness to the public, said J.A. Jayalal, honorary secretary, IMA Tamil Nadu.

“The incidence of communicable diseases is declining but non-communicable diseases are on the rise. Stroke is one of the major problems but can be prevented with increased awareness of proper lifestyle and eating habits, physical exercise and abstinence from alcohol and smoking,” he said.

IMA would develop a module on stroke with experts from the neurosciences and take it forward to primary care physicians, said M. Balasubramanian, IMA State President (Elect).

Arul Rhaj, chairman of Common Wealth Healthcare Alliance, was also present.

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