| Azlan Othman |
STROKE is the fourth highest cause of death in Brunei Darussalam, with 143 deaths in 2017 and most of them occurred among those aged 65 and above.
This was stated by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in his message to mark the World Stroke Day 2018 which fell yesterday.
The minister said more than 300 cases of stroke occur within a year in the country, meaning that as many as the lives of 300 people and their families will be disturbed and affected by stroke. In addition, about 78 per cent of these stroke sufferers are men. Globally, stroke causes one in 10 deaths and is the second highest cause of death among people over 60 years old.
Stroke is a type of non-infectious disease that can affect anyone such as our family members, friends, colleagues or someone we know. Every year, countries around the world, including Brunei Darussalam, continue efforts to strengthen the prevention, treatment and control of stroke and reduce the burden of the disease.
To commemorate the fight, World Stroke Day is celebrated every October 29 and the theme for this year is ‘Rising-Up After the Stroke’.
The minister said that stroke attacks can occur unexpectedly and change our lives in an instant. When blood flow to the brain is affected, damage to the brain tissue can cause permanent changes such as weakness in the arms or legs; loss of body balance; difficulty in speech; memory problems (dementia); or in more serious cases, it can lead to death.
What is significant is the disability burden caused by stroke that impacts not only those who suffer from it but also to families and communities involved.
The minister added that according to the World Stroke Organization (WSO), 80 million people worldwide are stroke survivors and 50 million of them now live with permanent disability. In fact, stroke is a major cause of disability worldwide.
Therefore, he urged all to provide continuous support and hope to the affected family members to seek assistance in the best care and rehabilitation for stroke victims, including in the area of reintegration into the community such as returning to work or practising their daily lives regardless of any disability.
In essence, stroke can be prevented. Stroke risk factors such as uncontrolled blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and smoking can all be prevented by practising healthy lifestyles and undergoing effective treatment.
The minister also said that, while realising the signs of stroke promptly, one should act and go to the emergency department at any hospital, which can make a big difference in terms of recovery and stroke effect to the victim.
Therefore, it is important for everyone to recognise stroke symptoms such as sudden loss of balance or body coordination; double vision or loss of vision in one eye; face drooping or weakness on one side; sudden weakness of an arm; difficulty to raise both arms; and trouble speaking or understanding.
One should act quickly to go to the emergency department by calling 991, even if the signs appear to cease.
Risk of stroke can be reduced through initial treatment and getting appropriate type of care. However, for those who have been affected by stroke, proper care combined with a strong desire to survive and to get back up can make a big difference to overall health and it is certainly not possible for them to rise up after the stroke.
On World Stroke Day, the minister said, “Let us focus on the thing that unites victims and guardians of stroke victims, their durability, ability and strong determination to pursue a journey towards recovery for the sake of daily life that is meaningful after experiencing a stroke.”
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with other stakeholders such as the Brunei Neuroscience Stroke and Rehabilitation Centre, Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre will continue to focus on strategies to prevent, treat and control stroke.
The minister said, “We will reinforce our commitment to continue creating awareness of stroke disease to reduce the burden of the disease. There is no doubt that the most effective way to deal with stroke is to practise a healthy lifestyle while getting timely treatment, given that early detection and treatment can save lives.”
Finally, the minister said, “Let’s make the life of the people around us, particularly those affected by stroke, to be better and work together to help stroke patients.”