Stroke Epidemic Hits India

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Changing habits and sedentary lifestyles have made the incidence of strokes more prevalent among Indians, and can induce permanent disability or prove fatal, even as preventive measures are at hand, doctors maintain.

According to them, an aggravation of intracranial atherosclerosis (ICAD), the hardening of the arteries that supply oxygen to the brain, can impede blood flow by narrowing and obstruction of blood vessels and result in strokes.

Alarmingly, the prevalence is more pronounced among the country’s youth because of a lifestyle where smoking is fashionable and alcohol consumption is trendy. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Stroke, the prevalence rate of strokes is 84-262 per 100,000 population in rural India and 334-424 out of 100,000 population in cities.

India, like other developing countries, is in the midst of a stroke epidemic. There is a huge burden of strokes with significant regional variations. This calls for an organised effort by both the government and private sector.

It’s assumed the average age of patients with strokes in developing countries is usually 15 years younger than those in the developed countries. In India, nealy one-fifth of the patients with first-ever stroke admitted to hospitals is estimated at 40 years or less.

According to the Stroke and Neurointervention Foundation, an Indian non-profit that spreads awareness on this ailment, a stroke is a localised damage to brain tissues, caused by loss of oxygen or interbal bleeding. In many cases, a stroke can be fatal.

Doctors explain that the risk factors include, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking, nutritional deficiency, high cholesterol, Type-A personalities like high achievers under constant stress and lack of information about its early symptoms and intensity.

From the preventive healthcare point of view, our country needs to be educated. Doctors will be of little help in this sphere. The government would have to take initiatives to facilitate awareness among both rural and urban populations.

In a study published last October in leading health journal The Lancet, titled “Global and Regional Burden of Stroke” – which looked at its incidence between 1990 and 2010 – a third of all strokes globally now occur in the 20-64-year age group.

Even as the overall deaths rates due to strokes were down globally, the number of people who succumbed to it was 10 times higher in the lower and middle-income countries, said the study, predicting the numbers to double worldwide by 2030.


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