New Delhi: About 60 per cent of people suffering stroke in India face various degrees of disability, some lifelong, said experts here.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients.
As brain cells begin to die in minutes, prompt treatment is crucial and early action can reduce brain damage, other complications and death.
“While the numbers of stroke patients continue to rise exponentially, like many other brain diseases, there is still a remarkable lack of awareness regarding this condition. Timely treatment in stroke will go a long way in improving a patient’s quality of life, and reducing lifelong morbidity and mortality,” said Pankaj Agarwal, Senior Consultant -Neurology, Head, Movement Disorders Clinic & In-Charge, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Programme, Global Hospital Mumbai.
“Stroke patients who get help from paramedics are more likely to reach hospital for care — in India, that number is only 1.8 per cent. We need uniform emergency medical services (EMS) system and certification of stroke ready hospitals across the country so that people know where to go when they recognise the signs of stroke,” added Dr P.N Sylaja, Professor and HoD, Neurology, In-Charge, Comprehensive Stroke Care Programme, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST).
While traditionally stroke affects older age groups, a large number of ischemic strokes are now known to also affect young people – in their 30s or 40s. Sometimes even adolescents in their teenagers or early 20s are affected.
“Stroke affects as many as 18 lakh Indians every year, which means one Indian suffers stroke every 40 seconds. One-fourth of these people are aged less than 50 and increasingly, a large proportion of stroke patients are found in the age group of 19 to 30 years. The burden of stroke on the most productive sections of society not only affects the person and their family but leaves a cascading effect on the countrya¿s socio-economic condition,” said Kamal Narayan, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council.
Covid has also increased the risk of stroke, particularly among the young patients between 20 and 30,as the virus triggers abnormal and severe clotting in blood. While the risk is around 1 per cent (higher if other risk factors for stroke are present), it is still life-threatening or leads to severe disability.
“In India, about 30 per cent of people suffering stroke die and a whopping 60-70 per cent people suffer various degrees of disability. The number of disabled people is more as we move into the interiors where hospitals do not even have a CT scan machine. We need to ensure they get treatment,” said Prof M.V. Padma Srivastava, Head, Neurosciences Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.
Eating a well-balanced diet, avoiding processed foods and sugary drinks, limiting salt, alcohol, smoking, and exercising daily can lower the risk of stroke, the doctors said.