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One-third stroke patients continue to suffer tremors, epilepsy, depression

One-third stroke patients continue to suffer tremors, epilepsy, depression
Photo Credit : IANS

New Delhi: One-third of stroke patients continue to suffer health complications ranging from movement disorders like tremor, dystonia, parkinsonism, and epilepsy to depression and cognitive challenges, said doctors, ahead of World Stroke Day, calling for more awareness about the condition.

World Stroke Day is observed on October 29 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.

While most healthcare providers focus on the gravity of acute strokes, they often fall short to turn an eye towards the long-term health implications of such strokes.

“Most stroke patients undergo epilepsy, yet it is the formidable post-stroke movement disorders that emerge as the true giants, with a staggering morbidity rate of 10-15 per cent. Post-stroke epilepsy follows closely behind at 10-12 per cent, while post-stroke depression, though significant, stands at 5-9 per cent. A third of all stroke patients fall prey to these health issues. Regrettably, 50 per cent of stroke survivors go undiagnosed of such post-stroke complications,” said Dr. Sanjay Pandey, HoD, Department of Neurology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.

“Long-term consequences, including post-stroke epilepsy, movement disorders, chronic pain, and paralysis, significantly erode one’s quality of life. Joint deformities, facial asymmetry, contractures, and bedsores are also common. Stroke can have its impact on a patient’s mental health too in the form of anxiety, depression, memory lapses, and concentration difficulties.

“In some cases, individuals may develop vascular dementia, which can present itself like Alzheimer’s disease. Cognitive challenges arising out of stroke can impair fundamental tasks such as eating, bathing, and everyday activities for which an individual then has to rely on caregivers. The lingering effects of a stroke can lead to an enduring state of dependence and, in many instances, a loss of employment,” Dr. Pandey said.

India has a high burden of stroke: approximately 18 lakh strokes strike each year, translating to one stroke every 40 seconds, with one stroke-related death occurring every 4 minutes.

The recent Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) study reveals that India shoulders the heaviest load, accounting for 68.6 per cent of stroke incidences, 70.9 per cent of stroke-related fatalities, and a staggering 77.7 per cent of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost.

Importantly, “about 15-20 per cent of the patients are under the age of 40”, Indian Stroke Association (ISA) President, Dr Anand Alurkar, said.

“Incidence of stroke is on the rise in the country. According to one study, it has almost doubled in the past decade. The challenge in stroke cases is identifying the symptoms and ensuring timely treatment,” Dr. Alurkar said, while speaking at the National Stroke Conclave 2023 in Ahmedabad on Friday.

Diabetes, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are some of the risk factors for stroke.

Even children are falling prey, doctors noted.

“What is very alarming is that we are witnessing a higher number of stroke cases among children aged than 20 years. The GBD stroke project reports that 31 per cent of the 5.2 million strokes recorded were among children aged less than 20 years,” Dr Prashant Chaudhary, Sr consultant, Neuro Surgery, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, told IANS.

He emphasised the need to develop proactive stroke prevention efforts, especially among younger and middle-aged populations. Adopting healthier diets, regular exercise routines, and abstaining from tobacco and alcohol use are the major ways to prevent the risk of strokes.

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