(MENAFN -Khaleej Times) As one person suffers a stroke per hour in the UAE, experts on Wednesday asked residents, particularly Asians, to cut salt in their diets.
With an alarming trend that sees more youngsters suffering strokes in the UAE, health experts have said that people need to “stop smoking and keep walking.”
As one person suffers a stroke per hour in the UAE, experts on Wednesday asked residents, particularly Asians, to cut salt in their diets.
Identifying a stroke and the next step
Call 999 if the FAST test shows:
> 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?
> Time: If any of the three signs are visible, it’s important to call the ambulance right away.
Dr Suhail Al Rukn, Neurologist and Head of Stroke Unit at Rashid Hospital, said 48 per cent of the patients seen at the unit are under 50 years and 20 per cent under 30 years of age.
On an average, 7,000 people suffer strokes each year in the UAE, and the unit admits 500 cases annually of which 150 are serious.
“These are alarming figures because a stroke normally occurs to people over the age of 70,” said the doctor while addressing a press conference at the Arab Health 2014.
“Most of the cases occur because of poor management of risk factors that cause stroke such as hypertension,” he explained. “By consuming the permitted amount of salt, which is 1-2 grams per day, people can reduce the chances of stroke by two to four folds.”
Stroke is the 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.
“The reasons for people suffering a stroke at such a young age in the UAE are multifactorial — a high percentage of our population suffers from diabetes and hypertension. Obesity is a huge problem our population faces and so is sedentary lifestyle — all these are triggers that can lead to a stroke.”
He also said that time is a crucial factor in stroke treatment. “Patients should ideally reach the hospital within an hour of having a stroke so as to minimise complications,” Dr Rukn said.
Rashid Hospital’s Stroke Unit in Dubai functions round-the-clock, while the other dedicated stroke unit is in Al Ain. The unit is in the process of obtaining an international accreditation for the establishment and functioning of a stroke unit that follows European protocols and standards in cooperation with Germany.
In future, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) plans to open a separate neuro-spinal centre on the premises of the upcoming new Rashid Hospital complex.
“Given the prevalence of strokes we would encourage more hospitals to set up dedicated stroke units that follow essential protocols to minimise the irreparable damage caused to the brain cells during a stroke,” Dr Rukn said.
Essa Al Maidoor, Director-General of DHA, said: “We are very proud of Rashid Hospital for establishing a completely dedicated stroke unit that follows international protocols.”
The DHA and the German state Rheinland-Pfalz had in 2012 announced plans to establish a certified stroke unit according to the European Stroke Organisation Guidelines. Germany will also train nurses in the emirate to be qualified to handle stroke cases.
Dr Joe Weingarten, Director-General of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany said the treatment of patients in a stroke requires a multidisciplinary team and nurses handling stroke cases have an important position within the unit.