Gloria Ekeng, Founder, Stroke Care International, on Wednesday said that Nigeria had over 16, 000 new stroke cases annually.
Ekeng disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of a walk and screening exercise hosted by the organisation to mark the World Stroke Day.
She said that in reality, without proper data, it was impossible to know the exact amount of stroke cases that occurred in the country every year.
`”The estimate is between 40 to 60 percent, our data is incomplete because we do not have information on stroke cases in the villages and rural areas generally,” she said.
She told NAN that most people have failed to realise that stroke was a medical condition, saying that many have continued to blame it on witchcraft and curses.
“Lack of education, not in terms of academic learning but in terms of awareness about stroke, has contributed to the growing incidence of stroke in the country.
“People do not realise that stroke is a medical emergency or that it could be prevented,” she said.
Ekeng said that the warning signs of stroke include persistent headaches that do not respond to painkillers and weakness or heaviness in certain parts of the body.
She also identified obscured and blurred vision as other warning signs of stroke.
According to Ekeng, people whose blood pressure was terribly high had a serious risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
She said that stroke did not discriminate and could affect anyone from 19 to 90 years.
Ekeng said that simple lifestyle changes were the best way to prevent stroke, especially for people who have a family history of high blood pressure and its complications.
“You have to check your blood pressure and make sure it is not up to 120 over 70 for any reason.
“People with a family history of diabetics are also at the risk of stroke and should endeavour to keep their condition under control.
“People have to actively be healthy by choosing healthier cooking oils, maintaining a low salt diet, and exercising often.
“They should also keep their stress levels low. I know this can be difficult in Nigeria with huge stressors like traffic and other complications,” she said.
NAN reports that members of the Stroke Care International offered free screening for people aged 20 to 60, for high blood pressure indicators.
According to Ekeng, of the people screened, more than half presented blood pressure levels that were above normal.
She said that fake drugs were an unrecognised cause of blood pressure because people continued to use them but they were usually not as effective as the real thing.
Ekeng said that stroke prevention was very important because stroke care in Nigeria had yet to reach international standards, especially for the masses.
She said that stroke care required a complex support group and a huge range of medications, but in Nigeria self medication was the order of the day.
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