With health programmes around the world acknowledging non-communicable diseases as major cause for mortality and reduced quality of life, the campaign to create awareness of stroke has gained momentum in the last couple of years. With public education as its primary goal, World Stroke Day on October 29 promotes awareness of identifying, treating and preventing stroke.
A stroke or brain attack is a medical emergency, but unlike most heart attacks may not be accompanied by severe pain and thus goes undetected or is meted out with delayed treatment.
The ‘one in six' campaign by the World Stroke Organisation sends across a warning that one in six persons worldwide is likely to have a stroke during their lifetime. While the message may seem alarming, the campaign seeks to drive home that death and disability from stroke can be prevented by timely action and prevention.
This has been compounded by various global and national studies projecting increase in deaths due to stoke- stroke is said to be responsible for more deaths than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. According to a hospital-based study conducted a couple of years ago, the incidence in Tiruchi was 26 out of one lakh people with early morning stroke being the dominant trend, according to M.A.Aleem , head, department of neurology, K.A.P.Viswanatham Medical College. The Tamil Nadu Health department has included stroke as a component in its World Bank funded Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project to address the issue.
“Patients with heart disease are at an increased risk of suffering a stroke as both stroke and heart disease share the same pathogenesis and are caused by similar health risks,” adds Dr. Aleem. Rheumatic heart disease patients run the risk of suffering embolic stroke while coronary heart disease patients are more likely to suffer from haemorrhagic stroke as medication for heart disease like aspirin and anti platelet drugs can prevent ischemic stroke.
The key to prevention of stroke lies in controlling risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, tobacco and alcohol consumption.
Diabetes is said to double risk due to associated circulation problems and high cholesterol can lead to hardening of your arteries that triggers coronary heart disease.
Low haemoglobin levels(less than 10 percent), bad oral hygiene and stress are also triggering factors.