Neurologists across the country today called for mass screening to identify people prone to brain strokes and urged the Centre to develop a national stroke prevention policy.
On the eve of World Stroke Day, the medicos also sought to bust popular myths about strokes -- widely and wrongly believed to be related to the heart and not the brain.
"Unlike heart attacks, people know very little about strokes. It is still believed that strokes are related to the heart ... This is a misconception. Strokes affect only the brain," says stroke neorologist Dr Jayanta Roy of AMRI Hospital Kolkata.
The term 'brain attack' should be used in the place of stroke to avoid confusion among lay people, he adds.
The prevalence of strokes in India is estimated to range between 90 to 200 per one lakh population.
A multi-centric study conducted by Indian Stroke Association has found that barely 10 per cent of patients with acute stroke reached hospital within the first three hours, called the golden hours.
Says Dr A P Shah, stroke neurologist at the Bombay Hospital, "Identifying the symptoms that lead to a stroke and providing preventive treatment could reduce the incidence of strokes by a huge margin. However, if someone does get a stroke, it is imperative that he or she is rushed to get specialised medicare within three hours".
Dr Roy says there are FDA approved clot-busting drugs available in the market that could bring back stroke patients from the brink of death to lead normal lives.