In a massive boost to the fight against stroke, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Indian Stroke Association (ISA) released a Position Statement on Stroke on World Stroke Day on October 29. The two associations also vowed to enhance cooperation for raising awareness about stroke.
Indian Medical Association President Dr. JA Jayalal and Honorary Secretary Dr. Jayesh Lele, ISA President, Dr. Jeyaraj Pandian and Secretary Dr. Arvind Sharma released the Position Statement on Stroke or Brain Attack during a joint webinar for the medical fraternity to mark World Stroke Day. The event also brought down the curtains on ISA’s celebration of October as Stroke Awareness Month 2021.
The Position Statement has been authored by Dr. Jibil Triza of Department of Neurology, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, Dr. MV Padma Srivastava, Professor and Head, Chief Neurosciences Centre, AIIMS, and Dr. Jeyaraj Pandian, who is also Principal and Professor of Neurology, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana.
The Position Statement covers the types and causes of stroke, risk factors, symptoms, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, myths associated with stroke, and other aspects of stroke.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Pandian said, “It is great to see IMA and ISA coming together. We were thinking of having a joint programme with IMA, and it is good to have done something together. It is fitting that we are releasing the Position Statement on Stroke on the occasion of World Stroke Day. The two organisations are committed to working together and creating awareness about stroke recognition and treatment protocols.“
Dr. JA Jayalal, President, IMA, said, “We are happy to release the position statement on stroke. Stroke cases put a huge burden at the personal and community levels, and it is important to address the growing challenge. The IMA has taken up many projects to build awareness about stroke. We will work with the medical fraternity at large, the government, and other stakeholders for building stroke awareness and reducing the burden of stroke.“
IMA honorary secretary Dr. Jayesh Lele commented, “Awareness is the key to mitigating the burden of stroke. Immediate hospitalisation and early diagnosis are the keys to total recovery from stroke. We are working on the guidelines for stroke protocols and treatment.”
Stroke prevalence is on the rise in India, with more than 18 lakh cases every year. Around 25% of the patients are less than 50 years old. It is the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death. A sedentary lifestyle, smoking, consuming alcohol, obesity, and lack of physical activity are the key risk factors for stroke.
“Stroke can happen to anyone, but around 80% of the cases can be prevented with lifestyle changes. The risk can be lowered by regular checks for hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, etc. Exercising regularly, maintaining the right weight, quitting smoking, and giving up alcohol can also help reduce the risk,” said Dr. Arvind Sharma, Secretary, ISA.
Dr. A Murugunathan, Chairman, IMA Hypertension Standing Committee, said, “Physicians should be allowed/empowered to give thrombolytic treatment. The IMA should work with the decision-makers and get legal clearances to enable physicians to start stroke centres.”
Dr. VG Pradeep Kumar, President-Elect, ISA, said, “Stroke awareness initiatives must be taken to the grassroots levels, and only then we can succeed in saving lives by ensuring people get treatment at the right time. I am confident both IMA and ISA will take forward not just public awareness campaigns, but also awareness campaigns among medical professionals.”
Dr. MV Padma Srivastava, Past President, ISA, and one of the authors of the Position Statement, said, “Time is of the essence in stroke cases. A stroke unit is the most critical intervention to improve stroke outcomes.“
In her remarks, Dr. P Vijaya – Executive Committee member, ISA, said, “Recognising stroke symptoms and reaching the hospital in time is critical. There are many effective therapies for stroke if administered within the golden period of 4.5 hours of getting the stroke. Timely treatment also allows for maximum recovery.“
The ISA celebrated October as Stroke Awareness Month 2021 and organised dozens of events to spread awareness. The events included risk screening camps, audio-visual presentations, community engagement through social media and other platforms, collaborations with the Indian Red Cross Society, Rotary Club, and other NGOs, etc.
ISA also collaborated with the Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai and Indian Hypertension Control Initiative (IHCI) to conduct webinars to educate doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, and other frontline healthcare workers at the primary level in 100 districts. The activities focused on highlighting various aspects related to stroke prevention, treatment, and recovery.
The theme of World Stroke Day 2021 was focused on Saving Precious time by raising awareness about signs of stroke, treating stroke as a medical emergency and the need for timely access to quality treatment. The ISA ran various social media campaigns for Know your numbers, Know your risks, recognise stroke symptoms, Act in time, among others, as a part of Stroke Awareness Month. It has lined up several more awareness initiatives that will continue well beyond Stroke Awareness Month.