Healthcare experts have urged increased awareness on stroke as the condition claims “twice as many lives than traffic accidents.”
The shocking revelation comes on the occasion of World Stroke Day, marked on Oct. 29, to raise awareness on high rates of stroke as well as on preventiing and treating the condition.
Professor Şerefnur Öztürk of the Turkish Association of Neurology says stroke symptoms may vary but people must be aware of the warning signs.
“People should be cautious of sudden symptoms like the loss of senses in one side of the body, on the face, arms or legs, speech impediment, difficulty in walking, dizziness, loss of balance or vision, and severe headaches,” Öztürk told Anadolu Agency.
She says five preventive methods are as effective as medicine in reducing the risk of stroke. “It is proven that informing stroke patients on changing their lifestyle to reduce risk factors is an efficient preventive measure. The five methods are regular checkups for blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, no smoking, a healthy diet, regular physical activity and consultation with doctors while taking medicine,” she said.
Öztürk says around 17 million people suffer from strokes every year and it is an important health problem the public should be aware of. "They should be informed about its prevention too," she said.
Starting at an early age is key in fighting strokes, and children should be encouraged to consume enough vegetables and fruits for a healthy diet, she added.
“We need to provide the means for more physical activity, regular checkups against diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and preventing obesity. Not only medical centers but also schools and sports facilities should join in with this fight,” she said.
Nearly three in every four people in Turkey are inactive and overweight, a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report revealed. The report said Turkish people on average exercise less than 150 minutes a week, a threshold set by WHO, and the number of obese people is rising.
The report also indicated that obesity has been one of the most widespread diseases in Turkey, costing the country more than TL 70 million to treat diseases directly related to obesity. According to WHO, at least 2.8 million people worldwide die each year because of obesity.
Cardiovascular or circulatory system diseases killed 162,000 people in Turkey last year, making them the leading cause of deaths, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TürkStat) revealed in April. Some experts say the increase in the rate of cardiovascular diseases is tied to the country's rapidly aging population, and the diseases would be more prevalent in the near future due to an increase in life expectancy and cases of diabetes.