By SOLA OGUNDIPE

NEW projections have emerged that  the routine costs of treatment of stroke and other cardivascular disorders are likely to more than double in the near future.

Findings by the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association also show that the number of people having strokes globally may increase by up to 20 percent by 2030.

A statement published in Stroke, an American Heart Association journal, notes that the main reason for the increases is attributable to the ageing  population.

The report warns that costs to treat stroke may increase from $71.55 billion  currently to $183.13 billion by 2030 while annual costs due to lost productivity could rise from $33.65 billion to $56.54 billion.

Currently, the average cost of treatment interventions of acute and long term care for stroke in Nigeria is N100,000 ($610 ).

However, as part of measures to tackle the burden of stroke, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases in Nigeria, the Federal Government  has resolved to subsidise treatment of stroke.

Minister  of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, who disclosed this in Lagos recently, said moves are also on to ensure expanded  access to  primary care and  medications needed to control the risk factors, as well as  improving access to acute stroke treatment.

From the report, Americans currently 45-64 years old are expected to have the highest increase in stroke at 5.1 percent. Stroke prevalence is projected to increase the most among Hispanic men between now and 2030, and the cost of treating stroke in Hispanic women is expected to triple.

In the view of Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele, who is professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston,:

“Ninety percent of stroke patients have residual disability and only 10 percent recover completely after a stroke. Policy makers at all levels of governance should be aware of this looming crisis so that we can consider practical ways to avert it.”

As the fourth leading cause of death and one of the top causes of preventable disability in the United States, stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blood clot or a bleeding vessel. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells die.

“Getting patients specialized acute stroke care as soon as possible is critical. During every minute of delayed treatment, brain cells are dying. EMS systems nationwide should take patients directly to a designated stroke center equipped to quickly diagnose and administer drugs to restore blood flow to the brain,” Ovbiagele stated.

He added that Policy changes that increase emphasis on prevention and wellness are expected to help reduce the number of strokes, deaths and related complications. Individuals without insurance are said to have a 24 – 56 percent higher risk of death from stroke than persons with insurance coverage.

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