The Chief Executive, Stroke Action Foundation, Mrs Rita Melifonwu, said on Saturday that stroke was the leading cause of death and disability globally. Melifonwu in Abuja, ahead of the World Stroke Day 2017, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 29. According to her, the day provides an annual opportunity for stakeholders to coordinate awareness and advocacy campaigns to reduce the burden of stroke at global, regional and local level. Melifonwu explained that stroke is an attack on the brain that occurs when the flow of blood is interrupted by a blood clot or broken blood vessel. She said every two seconds, stroke attacks a person in the world regardless of age, gender, education, religion or economic background. “The ailment is currently an epidemic in Nigeria; this is because presently its prevalence rate in the country is estimated at 205,200 each year, “The World Stroke records showed that one in six people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime, however, this year; the foundation would be focusing on risk awareness and prevention. “We are calling on all individuals, families, communities, health professionals and governments to raise awareness of key stroke risks and take action to prevent stroke,’’ Melifonwu said. She identified the risk factor of stroke as high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, overweight, lack of exercise, poor diet, high cholesterol, excessive alcohol intake and lack of stroke awareness. Melifonwu said that stroke could be prevented if necessary precautions are taken, adding that most Nigerians are unaware of the cause and symptoms of stroke as well as how to respond when it occurs. She mentioned that early recognition of signs of stroke, changes in lifestyle, health check, risk factor management and early intervention through stroke awareness, could make a difference and substantially improve outcomes. Melifonwu, however, urged the Minister of Health and Commissioners for Health in all state ministries to encourage citizens to engage in a ‘walk and run against stroke’. An activity she said was scheduled on World Stroke Day Oct. 29, to raise awareness on the importance of physical activity in stroke prevention.