World Stroke Day: Call to launch Stroke Prevention Program

KARACHI: Eminent Neurologist Prof Dr Muhammad Wasey has urged federal and provincial governments to launch ‘stroke prevention programs’ on the pattern of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Malaria and Dengue Control Programs as stroke incidents alarmingly rising in Pakistan.

This he said while addressing a news conference in connection with World Stroke Day 2020 at Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Tuesday. The news conference was organized by Pakistan Stroke Society (PSS) in collaboration with Neurology Awareness and Research Foundation (NARF), Pakistan Islamic Medical Association and local pharmaceutical firm to mark World Stroke Day which is observed every year on October 29.

The news conference was also addressed by Vice President PSS Dr Abdul Malik, General Secretary PSS Dr Ravi Shankar and Pakistan Society of Neuroly (PSN) member Dr Bashir Soomro.

Dr Wasey said everyday around 1000 people have large and minor strokes in Pakistan, of which 400 die on the same day while around 200 or 250 become disabled for life. He said in addition to conventional risk factors of the stroke, COVID-19 has emerged as another serious risk factor for stroke and it has increased the ratio of stroke to 100 percent all over the world, adding that people having diabetes, hypertension and using tobacco are more at the risk of having strokes when they contract Corona virus infection.

“In addition to launching national and provincial stroke prevention programs, there is an urgent need to have a national stroke treatment center and research institute in Karachi like National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD). Both the stroke and cardiovascular diseases have some risked factors and like heart attacks, brain attacks are also on the rise and killing hundreds of people on daily basis”, said Prof Dr Wasey.

He said in 2005, hardly 250 out of one hundred thousand people were having strokes in Pakistan but now a recent study conducted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa revealed that 1200 out of 100,000 people are having stroke in Pakistan, which indicates five time increase in the incidence of stroke in the country.

Dr Wasey maintained that stroke is a preventable disease where people can modify their risk factors by living a healthy life and added that they were striving to prevent school children and college students from having strokes as they were more prone to this disease due to being obese and overweight, becoming diabetics and hypertensive because of sedentary lifestyle and consuming junk food.

General Secretary PSS and neurologist Dr Ravi Shankar said stroke is an emergency and life of a person can be saved and prevented from disability if he or she is taken to a stroke unit within three to four hours after having symptoms of stroke. “Knowing the symptoms of stroke is very important.

If a person is having difficulty in speaking, his one side is paralyzed and difficulty in walking and confusion, these are signs and symptoms of having stroke and such patients should immediately be shifted to stroke units”, Dr. Ravi Shankar said adding that there should be stroke units at all tertiary-care hospitals and district-level health facilities in the country.

Dr Abdul Malik, VP Pakistan Stroke Society said they were holding awareness and training activities all over the country in connection with World Stroke Day 2020, which is observed every year on October 29 and added that Pakistan Stroke Society and other associations of neurologists are ready to support government in prevention of stroke and other neurological diseases.

“We can help governments in establishing stroke units at each government hospital by training doctors and paramedics while we can also launch programs to create awareness about prevention from stroke”, he added.

Dr Bashir Soomro spoke about prevalence of stroke in the COVID-19 era, saying Corona virus infection increases the risk of having stroke manifolds and urged people take precautionary measures to prevent themselves from contracting COVID-19 as well as having stroke.

In the end, an awareness walk and demonstration was also held at Karachi Press Club (KPC) to highlight the importance of healthy lifestyle in preventing stroke. Participants displayed banners and placards, inscribed with messages on how to prevent stroke.