Thursday, October 29, 2009



By Olindhi Jayasundere

It is little known fact that strokes account for 5.7 million deaths a year worldwide and ranks second to ischemic heart disease as a cause of death. Due to the ignorance and negligence the disease has been and continues to be a danger to the lives of humans.

At an event yesterday commemorating World Stroke Day, Dr. Padma Gunaratne, President of the National Stroke Association of Sri Lanka (NSASL), said that strokes are the second most common cause of death in the world and is the fourth highest cause of death in the country. “This is a very serious matter which we have to address the causes effectively,” Dr Gunaratne said.

WHO Country Representative, Dr. Firdosi Mehta said that there are three important things to look for when a person is on the verge of a stroke. Firstly, if you ask a patient to smile when you suspect someone is about to suffer a stroke you can tell immediately because a stroke victim cannot smile. The second symptom you should look for is the inability to speak. A stroke victim cannot speak. And finally you must check the tongue as often the tongue hangs side ways or curls up. If all these symptoms are present in a person then you can be certain that he/she is a stroke victim,” Dr. Mehta said.

There is no known drug that can be used to eliminate the possibility of a stroke, nor is there a guaranteed cure. However, early diagnosis and quick action can reduce the severity of a stroke. For patients suffering from speech loss, movement or other disabilities rehabilitation is possible with the assistance of physical and speech therapy, according to NSASL.

Dr. Mehta explained that strokes are caused by smoking, lack of nutrition and physical inactivity. “If you want to eliminate the chances of getting a stroke, then you must take precautions.” Dr. Mehta explained that this can be done by consuming fresh fruits and vegetable as opposed to excessively oily foods, reducing the consumption of sugar and taking up some sort of daily physical exercise that will ensure good health and the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

In order to highlight the impact of the rising rate of strokes in Sri Lanka, several stroke victims were invited to an event yesterday to create awareness amongst people on the severity of the issue. They received cash donations of Rs.10, 000 and wheelchairs which were presented to them by the Social Service and Welfare Ministry Secretary, V. Jegarajasingham.

Health Ministry Secretary, Dr.Athula Kahandaliyanage, who was also present at the event, said that his ministry will undertake strategies to reduce the ever-increasing number of stroke victims in the country. “We have already taken several policy decisions with regard to this issue and hope to implement them in the near future. It is a challenge of great magnitude, but it is one that must be achieved,” he said.

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