ISLAMABAD: More than 80 per cent strokes are preventable through basic life style changes, careful monitoring of the body, regular checkups, and timely intervention in case it has already occurred. This was said by Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences Consultant Neurologist Dr Mansoor Iqbal, on Thursday at an awareness seminar organised by Shifa International Hospital (SIH) to mark the World Stroke Day.
Stressing the need for avoiding sedentary life styles and high cholesterol diet — the leading causes of stroke — he said it was a silent killer and does not show any symptoms for very long.
“Everyone is susceptible to getting strokes but smokers are six times more at risk,” he added.
Iqbal said sudden numbness, confusion, trouble seeing, disturbed balance while walking, severe headache with unknown causes are among clear warning signs of a stroke. “Knowing the signs beforehand can prove to be an important step towards early recovery,” he added.
Nearly 0.35 million Pakistanis suffer from the disease every year, but it is a treatable and preventable disease, said SIH Neurology Division Head and Consultant Neurologist Dr Maimoona Siddiqui.
Annually, 15 million people suffer from stroke worldwide and every six seconds someone either dies of stroke or is permanently disabled, she said.
She said people are often surprised to know that young people suffer strokes and even more shocked that women are more likely to have a stroke than men. One in six people will have a stroke, and for women, the figure is one in five, she stated.
She explained stroke is a sudden brain damage and lack of blood flow to the brain, caused by clot or rupture of a blood vessel.
Speaking about acute stroke investigation and treatment, Dr Raja Farhat Shoaib, a consultant stroke physician, stressed on timely recognition of the patient.
The sooner a patient is correctly diagnosed and taken to specialised centre for treatment, the better it will be for him or her in the long run as such patients are less likely to develop serious post-stroke symptoms, he said. “A doctor’s priority is to begin treatment quickly, as around 2 million neurons die every minute after a patient has suffered brain haemorrhage,” he added.
Dr Khaula Ashraf, associate consultant at SIH Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, stressed the importance of physiotherapy in rehabilitation of stroke patients. “Maximum recovery can be achieved within the first six months and sufferers can greatly improve quality of life by doing simple exercises on daily basis,” she said.
A single doctor cannot treat a stroke patient, said SIH Neurologist Dr Mohammad Amjad, while speaking about long-term care, complications and rehabilitation. It is a combined effort of rehabilitation specialists, physiotherapists, neurologists and family of the patient, he added.
“Do not ignore a mini-stroke because you are most susceptible of suffering a major stroke within three months,” the doctor cautioned.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2015.