A national survey conducted across metros highlighted the lack of awareness on strokes, and its implications largely among younger Indians.
World Stroke Day is on October 29 and, as a precursor, the Indian Stroke Association (ISA) has called for creating awareness on the third largest killer in India — stroke. As a part of this initiative, ISA commissioned a survey to understand the extent of knowledge that prevails about stroke amongst the population.
The research revealed that a majority of Indians do not know the real causes of strokes. The survey studied men and women aged between 25 and 50 years. A total of 1,507 people were interviewed from Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.
The survey took stock of the respondents’ awareness and understanding of the term stroke, its symptoms, perceived causes, the knowledge about treatment options and their experiences with stroke sufferers.
A stroke is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in blood supply to the brain. It is caused due to blockage of a blood vessel or rupture of the blood vessel in the brain. However, the study revealed that most people were not aware of strokes, its manifestations, the immediate course of action if it occurred and the rehabilitation treatment available for patients. Only half the people interviewed during the survey were aware that stroke affects the brain, may result in paralysis, and needs treatment by a neurologist.
The fact that a stroke can occur without pain and often goes undiagnosed is not known to many. Even fewer are aware that specific clot-reducing medication needs to be administered within four hours of a stroke, and doing so can prevent disability. The primary symptoms of a stroke are sudden onset of facial weakness, arm drift and abnormal speech.
According to a World Stroke Association survey in 2011, only 6.2 per cent of people recognised stroke symptoms. “The survey clearly indicates that there is a lack of awareness about the term stroke, its causes, preventive measures and immediate actions to be taken in case of a stroke occurring,” said Dr Shirish Hastak, former president of the ISA, who has spearheaded multiple campaigns to create awareness on strokes. The ISA is pioneering efforts to improve awareness, early diagnosis and referral, and appropriate management of stroke patients in the country. The cornerstones are increasing levels of awareness, trained and dedicated medical personnel committed to stroke prevention, he said.