India has the world’s second highest burden of stroke after China. The latest Global Burden of Disease study estimates that in 2015, there were over 5 million stroke cases in India resulting in over 2 million deaths. This makes stroke the second leading cause of death in India after ischaemic heart disease.
The majority of strokes in India are of the ischaemic type (87%), followed by haemorrhagic strokes (13%). High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for stroke in India (42%), followed by smoking (9%), diabetes (8%) and high cholesterol (6%).
There is a significant North-South divide in the burden of stroke in India, with nearly 60% of all cases occurring in the southern states. The states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have particularly high rates of stroke.
2. Lack of awareness about stroke and its risk factors is a major problem in India
Lack of awareness about stroke and its risk factors is a major problem in India. A stroke is a medical emergency and it can happen to anyone at any age. However, most people are not aware of the warning signs of stroke and do not know what to do if they or someone else has a stroke.
There are many risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and obesity. These risk factors are often present for years before a stroke happens. This means that there is plenty of time to make lifestyle changes or take medication to reduce the risk of having a stroke. However, many people do not know about these risk factors or how to reduce them.
The most important thing to do if you think someone is having a stroke is to call emergency services immediately. Time is critical when it comes to strokes, and the sooner someone gets treatment, the better their chances of recovery.
Educating people about the warning signs of stroke and what to do if someone has one could save lives. It is important that more people learn about strokes so that they can be prevented or treated quickly if they occur.
In a critical situation please follow these guidelines:
If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, call 911 immediately and ask the dispatcher to send an ambulance.
Be prepared to answer questions about the person’s symptoms.
Do not try to drive to the hospital yourself. Time is critical when someone is having a stroke.
Symptoms of a stroke usually come on suddenly and may include:
Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others
Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
Severe headache with no known cause
3. Genetics play a role in stroke susceptibility in India
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that genetics play a role in stroke susceptibility in India. A number of studies have shown that Indians are more likely to suffer from strokes than people of other ethnicities, and that they are also more likely to die from them. One theory is that this increased susceptibility is due to the fact that Indians have a higher prevalence of certain risk factors for stroke, such as diabetes and hypertension. Another theory is that it may be due to genetic factors.
Some studies have looked at specific genes that may be involved in stroke susceptibility in Indians. One study found that a particular gene, called PON1, was associated with an increased risk of stroke in Indian women. Another study found that a gene called APOE was associated with an increased risk of stroke in Indian men. These studies suggest that there may be some genetic factors involved in stroke susceptibility in India. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.
4. There is a need for better stroke prevention and management strategies in India
There is a great need for better stroke prevention and management strategies in India. Every year, upwards of 80 lakh people suffer from a stroke and about 2/3 die due to the condition. that’s almost one person every three minutes. Of those who survive, nearly 60% are permanently disabled. The burden of stroke in India is increasing rapidly due to the ageing population and the rise in risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
The good news is that most strokes are preventable. And, even if someone does have a stroke, effective treatments are available that can minimize brain damage and improve the chances of a good recovery.
But unfortunately, awareness about stroke risks and symptoms remains low in India. And even when people do seek medical help, they often do so too late – when the damage from a stroke is irreversible.
There is an urgent need for better awareness about stroke risks and symptoms among the general public. And it’s equally important that people know that timely treatment can make all the difference between a full recovery and lifelong disability.
Here are some top prevention tipps to reduce the risk of stroke:
If you are a smoker, quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do to prevent a stroke.
If you have high blood pressure, work with your healthcare team to get it under control (limit the amount of salt you eat).
A low-fat, high-fibre diet is usually recommended, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (5 A Day) and wholegrains.
Exercise regularly, at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
Know your family history and talk to your healthcare provider about your stroke risk.
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