Please attribute to Dr Khalid Anwar, Consultant of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Amana Healthcare Abu Dhabi.
Dubai, UAE, October 26, 2017: In the UAE, coming a close second after road traffic accidents, stroke is the leading cause of disability. Annually, 7,000 – 8,000 patients in the region are diagnosed with stroke, which roughly equates to one person every hour.
It is widely known that stroke is the leading cause of death in the world. But what is less well known is that it is the second leading cause of long term disability.
Stroke in layman terms is a brain attack. It is a sudden occurrence of permanent damage to an area of the brain. It can be caused through either blocked blood vessels (Ischemic Stroke) or by rupture of a blood vessel that causes bleeding in the brain (Hemorrhagic Stroke).
20% of patients die within one year after the stroke, 10% suffer such severe impairment that they require long term care, 40% stroke survivors experience moderate to severe impairments, 20% recover with minor impairments while 10% of patients recover completely. So well over half the patients need therapy input at some stage after the stroke to improve their functional status and quality of life.
Resulting in a host of physical, cognitive and emotional issues, stroke is a sudden, life changing and devastating experience for one and their family. Most common symptom after stroke is weakness of a limb or one side of the body. Other common problems include, sensory impairment, problems with speech, visual loss, confusion and memory impairment.
Fortunately, there is hope after stroke with the help of prompt diagnosis, early acute treatment, timely access to rehabilitation team of professionals and support of the family.
There is a lot of research and scientific evidence to suggest that patients diagnosed with stroke should be cared for in the dedicated stroke units in the hospitals rather than on normal medical wards. The key is access to a multidisciplinary team consisting of rehabilitation physicians, specialist rehabilitation nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, dietitian, social worker and neuro-psychologist. Timely and specialized rehabilitation at a dedicated stroke rehabilitation hospital under care and expertise of a multidisciplinary team results in less complications, better outcomes, increased quality of life and better functional gains
But, just like many other life-threatening conditions, stroke is preventable. 70% of strokes can be prevented by simple but beneficial lifestyle modifications.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the single biggest risk factor for stroke. It is a silent killer and if not treated properly, increases the person's stroke risk by 4 to 6 times. It is therefore important to screen individuals for high blood pressure and if diagnosed, to treat it properly and aggressively. It can be treated with lifestyle modifications such as reducing weight, physical activities and a healthy diet. However, this can require regular medication too. Well controlled hypertension reduces the chance of stroke considerably.
Almost 41% of patients admitted for rehabilitation at Amana Healthcare Medical and Rehabilitation Hospital in 2016 had a diagnosis of stroke. 50% of the stroke patients in the UAE are below the age of 45 years as compared to global average where 80% of stroke patients are above the age of 65 years. This anomaly can be explained by the fact that 18-20% of Emirati population is obese and almost 20% suffers from Diabetes mellitus.
It is imperative to bring change to the common, unhealthy lifestyle many lead with low physical activity due to sweltering temperatures, the convenience of takeaways and work culture. To understand that stroke is preventable and that, if it happens, there is hope for recovery is a necessary know for the UAE community.