World Stroke Day is commemorated on 29 October every year with the aim of spreading awareness and informing people about the signs, symptoms, and prevention of stroke. This day was declared by the World Stroke Organization (WSO) in 2004.
According to a stroke practitioner who is also a research nurse at MLW Gloria Mwangalika, this day should be marked as very important because it educates people on the effects that stroke has on health and development.
“This day educates people on the need to promote health-seeking behaviors in relation to stroke urgency by knowing its signs and symptoms as well as what to do and when to report to the hospital when they experience signs of stroke”
Due to impaired brain function, some of the signs and symptoms of stroke include paralysis or numbness of the face mostly on one side, trouble speaking and understanding, trouble walking, and severe headache. A sudden wave of weakness could also be a warning sign of stroke.
This year’s World Stroke Day was observed under the theme “FAST”. The FAST campaign was introduced to encourage people to observe FAST (Facial weakness, Arm weakness, Slurred speech, and Time) symptoms and to get proper treatment at the right time.
“Around one in every four adults above the age of 25 has at least one stroke in their lifetime. When somebody has a stroke, every second that goes by is crucial. As brain tissue and millions of neurons begin to fade away, time could not be more precious. Delay in treatment is considered one of the leading causes of death an estimated 70 percent of strokes in the world,” said Mwangalika.
Stroke, also known as a brain attack, is the world’s leading cause of disability and second leading cause of death, but it can be prevented if people start addressing a small number of risk factors by eating a healthy diet, exercising, preventing, and managing Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as blood pressure and diabetes and the management of stress.
MLW will partner with Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and University College London to open the first stroke unit in Malawi during 2022.