LAHORE - Like other parts of the globe, World Stroke Day will be observed across Pakistan today (Thursday) to raise awareness about prevention and treatment of the condition, and ensure better care and support for survivors.

Symposiums, walks and screening camps will be arranged by public sector and private institutions to highlight the importance of regular screening and raise awareness about preventive measures to avoid leading cause of disability worldwide and the second leading cause of death.  “Stroke is responsible for more deaths annually than those attributed to AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined while there are 350,000 new stroke patients every year in the country. Two out of three people who suffer from a stroke live in low and middle-income countries”, said health experts while stressing the need for adopting healthy lifestyle and regular screening. 

Dr Rehan Omar Siddiqui, Consultant Cardiologist, Medical Director, Family Care Hospital said Atrial fibrillation (AFib) 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. Moreover, people with AFib are at increased risk for stroke and are estimated to account for 15% of the 15 million strokes that occur worldwide every year. AFib may happen rarely or every now and then, or it may become an ongoing or long-term heart problem that lasts for years. That’s why early identification and management is critical.

Dr Abdul Salam Majeed Agha, Consultant Cardiologist, Tabba Heart Institute said people should not undermine risk factors for AFib 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; heavy alcohol use; enlargement of the chambers on the left side of the heart.

Many people who have AFib don’t know they have it and don’t have any symptoms. Others may experience one or more of the following symptoms: Irregular heartbeat; heart palpitations (rapid fluttering, or pounding); lightheadedness; fatigue; shortness of breath; chest pain, he added. Dr Imtiaz Khalid, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Ziauddin University Hospital said, “we also know that high blood pressure, the major risk factor for stroke, is very common in Pakistan.” A national health survey revealed that more than 30% population above age 45 is suffering from high BP, most of whom are undiagnosed and uncontrolled. Up to 25% patients with stroke die if they do not get good initial care after stroke.  

This could be reduced to 10% by providing good emergency care and in-hospital care in the first 48 hours. 

As many as 20% patients with disabling stroke have a minor stroke or warning signs a few days or weeks before the stroke. If those patients can be identified, stroke incidence can be reduced.

Professor. Abdul Rasheed Khan Professor of Cardiology at Karachi Institute of Heart Diseases, said all stakeholders of the health sector should prioritize their activities to create awareness among the patients on World Stroke Day 2020. The faster stroke is treated, the more likely the patient will recover. Patients who are treated within 90 minutes of their first symptoms are almost three times more likely to recover with little or no disability.

 

High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and the most important controllable risk factor for stroke.  You can reduce your risk of stroke by addressing these modifiable risk factors including high blood pressure, overweight, cigarette smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, physically inactive and poor diet.