Letter to the Editor
World stroke day- beyond celebration….
Today (May 16) world is celebrating World Stroke Day. Stroke is one of the unfortunate diseases in Pakistan. Despite being third cause of death and leading cause of disability throughout the world (including Pakistan) it has received little attention from health care authorities. For long it has been dismissed as “you cannot do anything” form of disease.
We believe it is one of the major health care issues in our country. It would be hard to find any family in the country which has no stroke victim among extended family members. It is projected that there are more than 300,000 new stroke patients every year. Due to poor post stroke care up to 40% die within six months and rest 60% are added to a pool of disabled people. Why the stroke is so rampant in Pakistan? It is because very high prevalence of High Blood pressure in our country. According to National Health survey every third Pakistani above age 45 is hypertensive. Majority of these patients are unaware of their high blood pressure and they only find out once they have a stroke or heart attack, which is too late. We have 5 million Diabetics and around 20 million smokers, major risk factors for stroke.
Research has shown that more than half of this stroke could be prevented by effective Blood pressure control and risk factor management. This has been done else where and very much possible in our country by mass awareness campaign. Stroke is a treatable problem and large numbers of patients are able to go back to work after a stroke. This is being done by acute stroke management, dedicated in patient care and intense rehabilitation program.
We strongly feel that Stroke need immediate attention from Health care authorities. A National Stroke prevention program should be established. We have a TB Control Program, AIDS control program, Malaria control program, Mental Health Program and why we cannot have a Stroke prevention program that would really affect the mortality and disability related to stroke, which is a huge economic and social burden in our society. The National stroke prevention program should initiate and coordinate public awareness campaign, prevention guidelines and research related to stroke in Pakistan. Upcoming National Health Survey should focus on identification of stroke, risk factors and disability related to it. This information will be helpful in future policy making and planning. A collaboration between Stroke Program and Pakistan stroke Society could enhance stroke prevention and care in Pakistan and reduce the burden of disease.