Chennaiites largely ignorant about strokes, finds study
Despite Gen Y having access to every ounce of medical knowledge, courtesy a smartphone and 3G Internet, here’s a shocker: less than 14% of Chennai’s educated, upwardly mobile class know that a person can have a stroke without feeling an ounce of pain.
According to a national study commissioned by the Indian Stroke Association ahead of International Stroke Day (October 29), people in Chennai have some of the lowest awareness levels about stroke among India’s metros. A stroke is caused when the blood supply to the brain is reduced or interrupted.
Part of the reason why stroke-related awareness is so low, is because it is a silent killer. “There is a lot of awareness about heart attacks. They surmise as much when the patient has a pain in the chest and communicate this when they call for an ambulance. However, with strokes, only a handful tell the ambulance staff that they suspect it may be a stroke,” said Dr Lokesh B, chief of Stroke Management and Neurosonology at Global Health City.
Dr U Meenakshi Sundaram, Head of Neurology at Sri Ramachandra University, said, “Even in a country like the US, awareness is only 15 to 20 percent and dips to 5% in France. In Chennai, awareness is increasing but we have a long way to go. Of course literacy has a role to play in it,” the doctor said.
The study also revealed that less than 8% of Chennai respondents knew that clot dissolving drugs had to be administered within 4 hours to avoid brain damage or death. The doctor recalled how a 30-year-old autorickshaw driver, could not be saved because he did not approach a tertiary hospital that specialises in stroke management.
He was shifted to a hospital from a primary health centre only after two days but by that time, the stroke had affected major part of his brain.
Spotting the signs can save lives, explained Dr Dhavapalani, Consultant and Head, Emergency Department of Apollo Hospitals, “Usually, in India, the patient doesn’t recognize that he/she is suffering from a stroke and when they do, sometimes their symptoms make calling for help difficult, if not impossible. Only the people around them can really help by telling the ambulance staff that they showed signs of a stroke.”
Strokes can be pre-empted in stroke labs, using a carotid intracranial doppler to measure the rate of blood flow to the brain.