“What advice would you give to a good friend about having a stroke?”
Answer – “Don’t have one”.
This was part of a discussion I recently had with a stroke patient at the All India Institute for Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi. AIIMS is one of the three dedicated pioneering hospitals that have specialist stroke teams and units that we are working with for NIHR Global Health Research Group. The focus of the partnership, which includes colleagues in India, UK and Australia is to improve stroke care in India.
Fore me, this was a humbling and inspiring visit. I was part of the bid writing team for the appreciation and led on collating the facts and figures about the incidence, impact and stroke care provision within India formed part of the application. I knew that fort instance, stroke occurs at a much younger age in India than in the UK and Australia, occurring around the age of 50 rather than 70. However, the reality of this was brought home at our discussion event where around 50 patients and carers attended. Most stroke patients were in their 30’s. Having run similar events in the UK, the average age of attendees would have been much older. And the impact of stroke is varied and huge. Listening to people’s stories, I was struck by the differences in the pathways to accessing care. Most people who had a stroke did not attend the hospital initially, but had been seen days, weeks or months later for specialist input. Few had been brought to hospital immediately after their stroke. All described the profound changes to their lives and their worries for what the future held.
Visiting the ward areas and stroke unit, much was very familiar to me as a nurse, including the key messages about control of infection and current campaigns to raise awareness of new policies within the hospital. However, again the stroke patients being cared for, mostly by their families, were very young. We know the rates of younger people in the UK having strokes are rising.
Whilst I knew the statistics about stroke, the visit has brought home the reality of both the similarities and stark differences. Our current collaboration is aiming to improve stroke care in India by agreeing priorities and developing interventions appropriate to low resources environments that could be widely implemented in a variety of healthcare settings to ensure the maximum benefit for patients in achieved. We are a long way from being able to prevent stroke occurring, but perhaps what we achieve will reduce the impact of stroke and improve the lives of those affected by stroke in the near future. To find out more about our project visit uclanglobalhealth.co.uk and follow us on Twitter @UCLanGlobalHeal.
Funding statement: This research was commissioned by the National Institute of Health Research using Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding.
Disclaimer. The views expressed in this publication are those of author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, National Institute of Health Research or the Department of Health.