“So many patients have missed an opportunity to get free and effective treatment,” Assoc Prof Dr Somsak Tiamkao of Khon Kaen University’s Faculty of Medicine said, in the run-up to World Stroke Day.
The occasion is observed worldwide on October 29 to underscore the serious nature and high rate of strokes, to raise awareness about preventative measures, treatment, and ensure better care and support for survivors.
In suspected cases of stroke, Somsak stressed the importance |of calling 1669 for a free ambulance that rushes the victim to hospital.
“The faster patients get the right treatment, the greater their chance of surviving and avoiding paralysis,” he said.
He said that while recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rT-PA) – the drug used to treat stroke – costs between Bt70,000 and Bt100,000, the government provides it at no charge to Thai victims.
“No matter what healthcare scheme you are entitled to, you can get this drug for free if you have had a stroke,” said the neurologist, who works at the university’s Srinagarind Hospital.
He lamented that despite the free treatment, just 3.8 per cent of stroke patients had received rT-PA.
Receiving a timely prescription of rT-PA offers a 50-per-cent chance of satisfactory recovery, Somsak said.
“It’s necessary that patients get diagnosed fast.
“And the stroke fast-track is offered for that purpose. Patients who seek treatment via this specially designed service will undergo a brain X-ray, a blood test, and get a diagnosis within 40 minutes.”
He said stroke could hit people out of the blue, with victims often waking up to realise they have had an attack while sleeping.
“Twisted lips and weak limbs are among the symptoms associated with stroke,” Somsak said.
He said to avoid stroke, people should get an annual check-up, have their chronic illnesses treated and exercise regularly.
“Avoid smoking, stress, alcohol consumption and becoming overweight,” the neurologist said.
The toll on Thais
A case of paralysing stroke occurs on average every four minutes in Thailand.
Every 10 minutes, one Thai dies of stroke.
Source: Assoc Prof Dr Somsak Tiamkao, neurologist at Srinagarind Hospital, Khon Kaen University’s Faculty of Medicine