World Stroke Day: Key facts to know about condition

Picture used to Illstrate World Stoke Day [Timeanddate.com]
Picture used to Illstrate World Stoke Day [Timeanddate.com]

The World Stroke Day was observed across the globe on October 29. The day was set aside to underscore the serious nature and high rates of stroke, raise awareness of the prevention and treatment of the condition, and ensure better care and support for survivors.

The annual event was started in 2006 by the World Stroke Organisation(WSO) which declared stroke a public health emergency in 2010.

To mark the day this year, organisations around the world on Monday held events emphasising education, testing, and initiatives to improve the damaging effects of stroke.

Cerebrovascular accidents, known as strokes, are the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability, a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows.

Stroke, the sudden death of some brain cells due to lack of oxygen when blood flow to the brain is lost by blockage or rupture of an artery to the brain, is also a leading cause of dementia and depression. Globally, 70 percent of strokes and 87 percent of both stroke-related deaths and disability-adjusted life years occur in low- and middle-income countries.

According to WHO, the stroke incidence in low- and middle-income countries has more than doubled over the last four decades.

Strokes mainly affect individuals at the peak of their productive life. Despite its enormous impact on countries’ socio-economic development, this growing crisis has received very little attention to date.

WHO data for 2018 life expectancy released last week shows Nigeria has life expectancy of 55 years. In that data, stroke was listed among the major causes of death in the country.

In observation of the day, here are key facts about the deadly condition:

Signs of a stroke:

Sudden numbness or weakness of the body, especially on one side; sudden vision changes in one or both eyes, or difficulty swallowing; sudden severe headache with unknown cause; sudden problems with dizziness, walking, or balance and sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding others among others symptom.

Stroke causes

A common cause of stroke is atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries. Plaque made of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances builds up in the arteries, leaving less space for blood to flow. A blood clot may lodge in this narrow space and cause an ischemic stroke. Atherosclerosis also makes it easier for a clot to form. Hemorrhagic strokes often result from uncontrolled high blood pressure that causes a weakened artery to burst.

Key facts:

Anyone can have a stroke. The risk for stroke increases with age, but it can occur at any time. More than a third of people hospitalised for stroke are younger than 65 years old.
Women have strokes more often than men. Each year, about 55,000 more women than men have a stroke.

About half of all Americans have at least one major risk factor for stroke, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoking.

Race is also a factor in the risk for stroke. The risk for a first stroke is nearly double for blacks than whites. Hispanic people are also at greater risk for stroke than whites. Black people are also more likely to die from a stroke.

How to detect early signs of stoke

BALANCE: A sudden loss of balance or coordination, such as not being able to walk a straight line or touch a finger to the nose.

EYES: Sudden vision changes, such as double vision or blindness in one eye.

FACE DROOPING: Droopiness or numbness on one side of the face, such as an uneven smile.

ARM WEAKNESS: Weakness in one arm, such as not being able to raise both arms.

SPEECH DIFFICULTY: Slurred speech or speech that is difficult to understand.

If any of the above symptoms is present, it is important to call for emergency response, even if symptoms seem to disappear. Be sure to record the time when symptoms started.


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