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United Arab Emirates, Dubai, January 20,
2014: More than 600 patients have been
admitted with a stroke at the emirate’s
only dedicated 24/7 stroke unit in Rashid
Hospital, since its establishment in early
2012, said a top official.
Dr. Suhail Al Rukn, stroke and
neurology Consultant and head of
stroke unit at Rashid Hospital, which
is a hospital under the Dubai Health
Authority network, said : “Stroke is third
leading cause of death in the world and
the main reason for adult disability. In the
UAE, after road accidents, it is the second
leading cause of disability. Annually 7000-
8000 patients in the UAE get a stroke,
this means every hour, one person gets
a stroke. Internationally the number is
100 to 120 cases per 100,000 so we are
within the international range, however,
unfortunately in the UAE stroke patients
are much younger than those in western
Al Rukn said, “Abroad the average age
of a stroke is above 65 years, here it
is 45 years. Can you image the impact
this has on the patient and his family?
Stroke causes disability and when an
active member of the family is unable
to continue earing or lives with reduces
mobility, the full family is affected. The
reasons for people getting a stroke at such
a young age in the UAE is multifactorial
– a high percentage of our population
suffers from diabetes and hypertension.
The only dedicated 24/7 stroke
unit in the Emirate, urges people to
make meaningful lifestyle changes
to prevent getting a stroke.
Since its establishment in early
2012, more than 600 patients have
been admitted with a stroke- of
these 150 needed acute stroke
In the UAE, every hour, one person
gets a stroke, annually 7000-8000
patients suffer from a stroke.
Obesity is huge problem in our
population and so is sedentary lifestyle
– all these are triggers that can lead to a
Rashid Hospital’s stroke unit is the only
dedicated stroke unit in Dubai which
functions round- the -clock. The other
dedicated stroke unit is in Al Ain.
Al Rukn said: “ Given the prevalence
of strokes we would encourage more
hospitals to set up dedicated stroke
units that follow essential protocols to
minimize the irreparable damage caused
to the brain cells during a stroke.
“The thing about strokes is that it occurs
suddenly and the damage takes place
very quickly, the longer it takes a person
to get medical assistance, the more brain
damage. An adult brain has a total of five
to six billion brain cells, when a stroke
occurs, brain cells start to die. It has been
estimated that 1.9 million brain cells die
per minute in a stroke case. Therefore,
the level of disability can be quite severe
as the effects of a stroke on the body are
He added: “Every stroke is different and
strokes affect all bodily factions such as
speech, movement etc. A stroke on the
right side of the brain generally causes
problems on the left side of the body.
A stroke on the left side of the brain
causes problems on the right side of the
body. Some strokes happen at the base of
the brain and can cause problems with
eating, breathing and moving. For most
people, the left side of the brain controls
language (talking, reading, writing, and
understanding). The right side controls
perceptual skills (making sense of what
you see, hear and touch) and spatial
skills (judging size, speed, distance and
position). Despite the fact that stokes
affects several functions of the body,
people still do not understand the link
between poor lifestyle and stroke.”
He said an important message to the
community is that they should be aware
of what to do in case a person is having a
stroke as immediate medical intervention
is important. “Unfortunately, so many
people die every year and many are left
to endure severe or prolonged disability
because they didn’t get to a hospital quick
enough after having a stroke.”
He said that a simple process can help
family members identify if a person is
having a stroke or not. “ It’s called the
FAST test, the details are: Face: check
whether the person’s face has fallen to one
side and whether the person can smile
or not. Arms: Can the person raise both
arms or not? Speech: Can the person
speak or is the speech slurred? And lastly,
Time: If any of the three signs are visible,
it’s important to call the ambulance right
He said the first four and a half hours after
the person gets a stroke are most crucial
for doctors to minimize the damage to
the brain and thus getting to a hospital on
time is crucial.
He added that people above the age of
30 should check their blood pressure
every year and that there is a strong link
between hypertension and stroke. He also
advocated that people should bring about
meaningful lifestyle changes to minimize
their risk of developing a stroke.
Jan/Feb 2014