Brain stroke 2nd most common cause of death after cancer
New Delhi: A person suffers from a brain stroke every three seconds in India and a death is reported every three minutes, according to the estimates of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). Citing alarming statistics, Dr M V Padma Srivastava of All India Institute of Medical Sciences' (AIIMS) Department of Neurology underlined the need for timely treatment of such patients and stroke units in every district hospital of the country.
Delivering a lecture on World Stroke Day, AIIMS Head of the Department of Neurology Dr Kameshwar Prasad lamented that there is very little awareness about brain strokes. To determine the incidence and risk factors of brain stroke in both urban and rural communities, AIIMS conducted a study which found that 5,640 persons below the age of 50 from Vasant Kunj had been enrolled and found that 4,266 had gone through various medical assessments at AIIMS and 1,082 had undergone an MRI.
"This study will enhance our understanding of strokes and dementia in the Indian population and also pave the way towards 'Precision Medicine," Dr Prasad said in a statement.
AIIMS alone receives about 450 patients every year and although lakhs of people in the country suffer from brain strokes, not more than a thousand undergo thrombolysis each year, Prasad pointed out. Thrombolysis is a process under which brain stroke patients takes a CT scan and are administered a tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) to bust arterial blood clots. Brain stroke patients need to be taken to the hospital within the first hour — "the golden hour" — of suffering the stroke. There is a four-and-a-half hour window for treatment to begin and doctors said that a patient needs to be rushed to hospital and not to a clinic or a dispensary.
"When treatment is delayed, millions of neurons are damaged and higher functions of the brain are affected," Srivastava elaborated. He added that brain stroke is the most common cause of death, second only to cancer. The causes include high blood pressure, smoking or tobacco consumption, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and excessive consumption of junk food.
The symptoms include impairment of the face, arms or speech, unexplained dizziness, double vision and severe headache. Prasad said that at the National Programme for Non-Communicable Diseases, it was agreed to set up a stroke unit at the district level and have some dedicated beds.
"It was agreed in principle but it has not percolated to the district level," he said. "A stroke unit needs no special infrastructure and can be set up in the coronary care unit. It needs a dedicated nurse, a physiotherapist and an interested physician. Patients recovering from a stroke also need emotional care and family support," Srivastava observed.