Stroke fourth highest cause of death in Brunei

Azlan Othman

Stroke is the fourth highest cause of death in Brunei Darussalam, where on average stroke patients are those aged between 55 and 60. But 17 per cent of stroke sufferers are under the age of 45.

Of all stroke patients, 20-25 per cent is a type of haemorrhagic stroke caused by bleeding, while the rest a type of infarct stroke caused by blood clots. Deaths from stroke also showed an increase of 162 in 2019 compared to 103 in 2014.

This was highlighted by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in his message to mark World Stroke Day today.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is affected either due to blood clots or blood vessels in the part of the brain rupture which can cause bleeding in the brain. Stroke can also happen to anyone, anywhere and anytime.

However, the risk of having a stroke can be reduced if we take steps to reduce it.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar

Among the global actions in an effort to prevent stroke in all countries including Brunei Darussalam are to celebrate World Stroke Day every October 29. This awareness campaign is celebrated every year with different themes and in 2019/2020, the theme of World Stroke Day is #DoBeTheOne which has the objective of focussing on stroke risk reduction.

As is the case all over the world, stroke is a major cause of disability among the population of this country. What is more worrying, according to a recent study from the World Stroke Organisation, is that, one in four people will have a stroke in their lifetime. This matter should be given attention.

The risk factors for stroke such as high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, obesity and smoking can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and effective treatments.

Therefore, for an individual, practising a healthy lifestyle is very important, including eating a healthy and balanced diet and engaging in physical activities on a regular basis.

According to the World Stroke Organisation, an estimated one million stroke cases occur each year associated with a lack of physical activity. Therefore, for increasing physical activity in the community, it urged the public to participate in #jointhemovement. This can be achieved by applying physical activity in daily routines such as walking, climbing stairs, gardening and doing housework.

In addition, just doing 30 minutes of exercise five times a week can reduce a person’s risk of having a stroke by 25 per cent.

Exercise of medium and heavy intensity can be divided according to one’s abilities and if it is difficult to exercise for 30 minutes in one session, it is recommended to break it down into 10 minutes or more in one session.

In terms of community action, a Physical Activity Guideline for Brunei Darussalam has been made which emphasises on population-based approaches in helping to increase the level of physical activity in the community.

In addition, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham also urged the public to know the signs of stroke and seek treatment immediately when experiencing the symptoms. Signs of stroke include sudden loss of balance or body coordination and sudden changes in vision, such as double vision or lack of vision in one eye.

Others include face drooping or weakness on one side, sudden weakness of an arm, and as if having difficulty to raise both arms and trouble speaking or understanding. One should act quickly by calling the emergency line at 991, even if the signs appear to cease.

On this occasion, the Minister of Health paid tribute to all stroke survivors who have struggled to cope with the complications and other challenges including physical, emotional and financial. Not to be forgotten that their caregivers also struggle together and do not stop giving support to them as a commitment to improve their health and well-being.

The Ministry of Health through the Health Promotion Centre, Non-Communicable Diseases Unit, Basic Health Care and Hospital Services with Brunei Neuroscience, Stroke and Rehabilitation Centre (BNSRC) and other stakeholders is committed to reduce stroke deaths through increased awareness and risk prevention as well as through treatment and rehabilitation.