Pakistan witnesses 350000 stroke cases every year: Dr Fowzia

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‘’ World Stroke Day’’

Karachi:     Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide, affecting 15 million people each year and 1 in every 4 individuals is believed to experience a stroke in a lifetime. In Pakistan more than 350,000 new stroke cases are recorded every year, “said Aafia Movement Pakistan leader and leading neuro physician of the country, Dr Fowzia Siddiqui here on Tuesday.

In a statement on the occasion of World Stroke Day, she said on the one hand healthcare facilities are dismal in Pakistan and on the other unfortunately the incidence of stroke is increasing in our country and outcome is not very good due to ignorance of the people in general. Where stroke does not kill it leaves the patient paralyzed and unable to function normally, she said.

Dr Fowzia Siddiqui, who is also President of Epilepsy Foundation Pakistan, said that many of the causes in stroke can be prevented with good public awareness. Causes like Atria fibrillation (AFib), a condition of irregular and often rapid heart rate, are five times more likely to have a stroke, said Dr Fowzia. “People with Atrial fibrillation (AFib) are at an increased risk for stroke and are estimated to account for 15% of stroke that occur worldwide every year. It is a common type of irregular heartbeat, also known as arrhythmia. With AFib, a clot can form in the chamber of the heart and can travel to the brain. This can lead to a potentially devastating thromboembolic stroke.” The formation of these clots can easily be prevented by medications and people need to know this.

She further advised that people having risk factors should address these to prevent getting strokes. Most Risk factors for stroke include age 60 or more, especially 75+, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, previous stroke, transient ischemic heart attack (TIA), or thromboembolism, vascular disease, ischemic heart disease, hyperthyroidism, chronic kidney disease, and enlargement of the chambers on the left side of the heart.

“While Stroke is responsible for more deaths annually as compared to AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, it is important to note that the disease can be prevented by keeping a check on blood pressure as a high blood pressure, high blood sugar and irregular heartbeats are the most controllable risk factors for stroke,” said Dr Fowzia.

As many as 25% patients die just after the first stroke as proper initial treatment is not being given; however, after the first stroke, the first 48 hours remains very crucial for the treatment. Moreover, almost 20% people suffering from minor signs can be saved by spreading awareness amongst the masses, she said, urging media, government and community-based organizations to make conscientious efforts towards stroke awareness by gathering and analyzing patients’ data in Pakistan.

According to a research, the incidence of stroke in the US is about 200 patients per 100,000 population while in Pakistan, it is believed to be close to 250 per 100,000 population, which means that there are 350,000 new stroke patients every year in this country.

“Taking a life every five seconds worldwide, stroke-related illness, disability and early death is set to double in the next 15 years (i.e. by 2035), which is an alarming situation; therefore, it becomes imperative to design stroke prevention strategies that could curb its increasing incidence in Pakistan,” she concluded.