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Stroke Day: Survivors can live a healthy life

Mr Adewole Oyeniyi is a stroke survivor who scaled through the first attack in 2015.The second one came 10 months after but he is now…

Mr Adewole Oyeniyi is a stroke survivor who scaled through the first attack in 2015.The second one came 10 months after but he is now back on his feet almost three years after.

He recounted his experience and how he overcame the burden during an outreach to mark the 2019 World Stroke Day organised by the National Hospital, in collaboration with Stroke Action and other partners, in Abuja with the theme, ‘When it Comes to Stroke, Think Prevention: Don’t be the One’.

Mr Adewole recalled that he was affected in basically every part of his body, adding that his speech was incoherent, the right part of his body was numbed while decision making became difficult.

He said the second attack happened while he was away from home and had to call a friend to convey him to the hospital. “The hospital was concerned with mobility issue as it pertained to my body, whether I could raise my hands and other parts of my body but unfortunately, I could not,” he recalled.

He said an emergency surgery was immediately prepared to be carried out on him but it was not possible due to a pending strike action by health workers then. It however had to be done later.

He said: “Although it took me three months with many times of practicing before I could regain my writing skill. There was no physiotherapy so, I stayed at home for my wound to heal. It wasn’t easy seeing people go out every day and I was confined to one place. It is not an experience anybody wants to suffer.

“Gradually, I began practicing how to do things by myself, after a while, I could bathe, wear my clothes, my shoes, fix my shirt button, I could drive through my estate but as at then, I couldn’t go back to work because I was unable to do anything mental, even to draft a memo of four paragraphs was a big challenge.”

Mr Adewole, who said he wasn’t sure whether stroke had to do with age, noted that the first attack happened when he was 45years old and the second when he was 46. “I don’t think it has to do with age but it has to do with lifestyle,” he said.

He commended Nigerian doctors for their effort in rendering their service but said they can do better, adding that in his case, the first time he was diagnosed of hypertension, the doctor prescribed some drugs for him but did not tell him for how long he would take them.

“The drug lasted for 60 days then I stopped taking it, not until I saw him on another platform and he asked if I was still taking the drugs prescribed. I told him no and he said I had to be taking them all the days of my life. Along the line, I was careless because I wasn’t taking it like I should.”

He advised people with stroke to live above it and brace up while urging people to go for regular checkup because it was better not to have it as it comes with lot of life challenges.

A stroke is the interruption of the flow of blood to any part of the brain, which causes damage to brain tissue. Studies have revealed that stroke is the leading cause of death in most developed countries. The damage to brain tissue can lead to various problems, such as impaired speech and mobility, changes in vision, reflexes, and eye movements, decreased sensation, and weakness or even paralysis in one side of the body.

According to the World Health Organisation, 15 million people suffer stroke worldwide each year. Of these, 5 million die and another 5 million are permanently disabled. High blood pressure contributes to more than 12.7 million strokes worldwide. Europe averages approximately 650,000 stroke deaths each year.

A Professor of Nephrology at the National Hospital, Abuja, Prof Bwala Sunday, during the 2019 World Stroke Day said, no fewer than 114 in every 100,000 people in Nigeria have stroke.

He said the problem of stroke is big and staring everybody in the face, adding that at least two to three people are admitted every other day for stroke at the National Hospital, Abuja.

Dr Bwala said, although there was no national survey yet, survey from the teaching hospitals across the six geo-political zones of the country showed that the figures are appalling.

“Though the statistics vary from state to state, observation in any medical ward in Nigeria revealed that stroke cases are quiet high with two to three people as sufferers. You can imagine what is happening in private hospitals, government hospitals and some that may not even get to hospital before they die,” he said.

He urged government to increase funding to non-communicable diseases, adding that: “We know government cannot do it alone but they need to do more in fighting these diseases because they are the second killer diseases globally.”

He mentioned the major risk factors for stroke as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, smoking, age and gender, race and ethnicity, personal or family history of stroke, brain aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) adding that living a healthy lifestyle is one way to curb it.

The founder, IDA Stroke Awareness Foundation, Mrs Moyosore Ayah, said the programme is to create awareness on stroke, spread preventive measures, and encourage survivors that they can live a better life after stroke.

“Creating awareness onstroke is to help people understand the symptoms and signs of stroke and to let sufferers know it is not the end of their lives,” she said.

She said they have taken the campaign to communities in Abuja where over 50 percent of the 150 people attended to have high blood pressure which is one of the risk factors of stroke.

Mr Timothy Oguike of AchaFoundation, a co-sponsor of the programme, said they are creating awareness in partnership with the National Hospital about stroke and how it can be prevented.

A retired public health expert, Mrs Florence Nbogu,said the global statistic of stroke is worrisome, adding that as at last year’s World Stroke Day, statistic revealed that one in every six persons would have stroke but that as at 2019, it became one in every four persons.

“This calls for concern. If we are going leave this without awareness, how will it be in the next 10 years? We are motivated into this because we are concerned. There is high level of ignorance around stroke because people are still thinking that it is caused by witchcraft, evil attack, or by an enemy, whereas it is a brain attack,” she said.

Mrs Nbogu added that, stroke is preventable and treatable, “controlling stroke is controlling the risk factor, preventing stroke is preventing the risk factors. We have to tackle the risk factors.”

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