Neurologists Urge Government to Build Stroke Units in Hospitals

Two neurologists on Friday in Lagos urged governments and well meaning Nigerians to establish stroke care centers across the country to reduce the burden of stroke.

The experts told the News men in interviews that stroke was an economic, medical and social problem that required urgent attention.

The Director of Stroke Action, Nigeria, Dr Biodun Ogungbo, said that stroke was an acute neurological deficit caused by interruption of blood supply to the brain.

Ogungbo told the press that the deficit could lead to Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), also known as mild stroke, before a major stroke.

He said that TIA could also be an indication of impending death.

The expert said that blurred vision, speech impairment, difficulty in walking and weakness of a hand or a leg were possible pointers to major stroke.

Ogungbo said that cases of stroke were in the   increase worldwide; adding that stroke was the second leading cause of death among adults aged 65 and above in most industrialized countries.

According to him, stroke is preventable and treatable, but its management in Nigeria is sub-substandard due to lack of care units.

“Currently, there are limited resources, shortage of manpower, lack of organized stroke units, poor neuro-imaging facilities and lack of ambulance services.

“There is poor education of the populace and general practitioners on stroke.

“ Neuro-imaging centres are very few, and access is limited by cost and distance.

“We need to do something about these, “he said.

Ogungbo said that there was the need for Nigerian leaders to do more to address stroke and related problems.

Dr Njideka Okubadejo, Consultant Neurologist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, advised that Nigeria should focus on prevention of stroke.

Okubadejo said that, in spite of many stroke-related deaths, there was lack of reliable data on the actual rate of morbidity and mortality caused by stroke in Nigeria.

“Identifying patients with hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smokers, sickle cell anaemia and those with a strong family history of stroke is very important.

“These people are at risk of stroke, and must change their lifestyles, “ she said,

Okubadejo said that management of stroke risk factors should begin in childhood, with emphasis on exercise, nutrition, weight and blood sugar control as well as avoidance of tobacco and excessive alcohol intake.

She urged medical personnel, drug manufacturing companies and federal and state ministries of health to intensify advocacy on stroke prevention, especially at the grassroots.

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