On World Stroke Day—Understanding the Facts About Stroke

World Stroke Day falls on October 29 and understanding the facts about it are imperative as 15 million people a year suffer a stroke worldwide, so it is a good idea to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke so that you may be able to aid others that might need help.

Statistics

50 percent of the stroke patients in the UAE are below the age of 45 years as compared to global average where 80 percent of stroke patients are above the age of 65 years. This can be explained by the fact that 18 to 20 percent of Emirati population is obese and almost 20 percent of the population suffers from diabetes mellitus. Furthermore, sedentary life style is common, and incidence of hypertension is high.

What is stroke?

Stroke in layman terms is a brain attack. It is a sudden occurrence of permanent damage to an area of brain caused by blocked blood vessels or bleeding within the brain. Fortunately, there is hope after stroke, but patients require prompt diagnosis, early acute treatment and timely access to rehabilitation team of professionals and support of the family. Stroke can be prevented by making simple life style changes including daily physical activities, reduction in weight, healthy diet, and avoidance of smoking can reduce the incidence of stroke.

Tips to identify a stroke and deal with it before reaching a doctor:

An acronym has been popularized that is all about what to look for and do when a person has a stroke: FAST: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech Difficulties and Time.

The first three letters in this acronym consist of visible signs that somebody may be having a stroke, and the last letter refers to the action to take if you believe someone is having one. With the latter, time not only refers to “time to call the local emergency telephone number”, but also, much like the acronym FAST itself, stresses the importance of getting treatment for the person quickly, since getting the patient treated within the first hour following a stroke can be the difference between good health and permanent disability, or even life and death.

There are additional symptoms of stroke, including becoming unconscious, confusion, paralysis on one side of the body, severe headache, blurry or lost vision, problems swallowing, dizziness, loss of coordination and balance. If someone experiences these symptoms, it’s best to seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

(Credit: Dr. Khalid Anwar – Consultant Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Amana Healthcare Abu Dhabi)