The average age for the onset of stroke in the capital is 55 years, as compared to 70 years worldwide, a study by AIIMS has revealed. Even more alarming is the fact that 15% of stroke cases in the capital are witnessed in people under 40, and 25% in people under 45. A stroke, which happens when poor blood flow to the brain results in cell death, is the second most common medical emergency that leads to disability, after accidents. According to the AIIMS study, hypertension, diabetes and alcohol consumption are the main reasons for strokes.
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The preliminary findings of the study, conducted by the Department of Neurology, found that 60% of people who suffered a stroke had a history of hypertension or high blood pressure. In 32% of the cases, it was linked to diabetes, while in 30% it was linked to alcohol consumption.
The study has so far covered 1,400 patients, and will eventually cover 3,000. Apart from AIIMS, data is also being collected from RML Hospital, Army R&R Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital, PGIMS Rohtak and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
“Preliminary findings revealed that the number of young people who suffered a stroke is rising in the city. At 15%, it is thrice the global average. Moreover, strokes in Delhi are occurring 15 years earlier than the global mean age for onset of stroke, which is 70. Hypertension is the top risk factor. Other reasons are poorly controlled diabetes, smoking and alcohol consumption,” Professor Kameshwar Prasad, head of the Department of Neurology at AIIMS, said.
“Since only a third of the patients recover fully from a stroke, and a third recover but with disability, it is important to focus on timely treatment. Sudden numbness, difficulty speaking or severe headache are symptoms of a stroke. Spotting a stroke is critical. An easy way to remember it is FAST, which stands for face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call a doctor,” Professor Prasad said.
The preliminary findings revealed that 75% of strokes were caused due to an abrupt blockage of an artery (ischemic stroke), while 25% were caused by bleeding into the brain tissue when a blood vessel bursts (haemorrhagic stroke).
“Whether it is hypertension, diabetes or consumption of alcohol, strokes are linked to lifestyle or dietary habits in young people. In older people, it is mainly due to aging. Periodically checking blood pressure and following a strict diet is important in controlling strokes,” Professor Prasad said.