Millions of people around the globe lose their lives to stroke each year despite most strokes being treatable, according to figures from the World Stroke Organisation (WSO).
It said alarmingly, more than 6.5 million deaths are caused by stroke annually making it the world’s second biggest killer and far deadlier than car crashes (1.3 million) and lung cancer (1.6 million) combined.
Marking World Stroke Day on October 29, the Stroke Foundation in Australia joined campaigners around the world in calling for global action to reduce inequality in stroke treatment.
Stroke Foundation chief executive officer and WSOboard member Sharon McGowan said many lives could be saved with improved access to treatment.
“It is a tragic misconception that stroke can’t be treated. There are highly effective treatments for this disease but sadly too many patients continue to miss out,” she said.
“Around the world there will be more than 17 million strokes this year and we know far too many people will be left with a significant disability – or worse lose their life – because they didn’t have access to best-practice treatment.
“In Australia, around 20,000 stroke patients a year are denied access to the full benefits of stroke unit care and just seven per cent of all ischaemic stroke patients receive clot busting treatment – resulting in death and unnecessary disability requiring a lifetime of care.
“Recognising the signs of stroke early, treating it as a medical emergency with admission to a specialised stroke unit, and access to the best professional care can substantially improve outcomes.
“Australia is championing significant advances in stroke treatment and care but the health system must now adapt to support health professionals in the delivery of these advancements.
“This World Stroke Day we are joining the global movement to demand government action on stroke. Stroke should not a death sentence – together we can prevent, treat and beat this devastating disease.”
WSOpresident Stephen Davis said more needed to be done to improve equity of access to critical treatments, particularly for low-income communities.
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