|*This article was published in www.thestar.com.my on October 29, 2021**|
PETALING JAYA: While suffering a stroke is no trivial matter, not all cases end in death.
For many who live to tell their story, there are treatments, care and hope on the horizon.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients.
Brain cells can die in seconds and therefore, stroke is a medical emergency with prompt treatment being very crucial.
As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure” and where stroke is concerned, there are warning signs that can help a person avoid an attack that could cause dire consequences.
Assoc Prof Dr Shalini Bhaskar, consultant neurologist from Hospital UiTM Puncak Alam, outlined some helpful hints that could help save the life of a stroke patient through the acronym BEFAST in the “Stroke: Every Second Counts” webinar organised by Star Media Group and supported by Angels Initiative on Oct 25.
B: Balance; if a person loses balance or shows poor coordination, this is a key point to note.
E: Eyesight; watch out for sudden blurry vision.
F: Facial numbness or drooping.
A: Arms feeling numb or the inability to lift the arms.
S: Speech that’s slurred or impaired or incomprehensible.
T: Time is of the essence.
“Calling an ambulance immediately could make a difference between life and death.
“Prior to a stroke, the foremost signs to watch out for are hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and compromised heart health which are all major risk factors.
“Patients with hypertension or high blood pressure are four times more likely to suffer a stroke. The ideal BP is around 120/80, so regular check is vital,” said Dr Shalini.
Other risk factors are smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and being overweight due to unhealthy diet.
She said exercising for 10 to 15 minutes daily or 30 minutes three times a week could minimise risks.
Dr Shalini also said a suspected stroke victim should ideally be rushed to the hospital in less than 4.5 hours to enable the medical team to do a CT scan and assess treatment options to prevent damage to the brain tissues.
“The sooner help is sought, the better, as brain cells can die very fast. Medications are also vital to avoid a second or subsequent attacks.
“Strokes are likely to recur, especially in patients with a family history,” she said.
Stroke patients are also known to suffer additional effects such as uncontrollable urination and bed sores as they are not mobile and usually flat on their bed.
Many also suffer from depression when they are not able to communicate normally with family and friends.
Dementia is another debilitating manifestation and can be tough on the family of stroke victims.
Dr Shalini said not all hospitals provide medical services for stroke patients. The public can visit MyStrokeHospital.my to locate stroke-ready hospitals.
Assoc Prof Dr Hoo Fan Kee, consultant neurologist at Hospital Pengajar Universiti Putra Malaysia, said stroke is among the top three causes of death in Malaysia (after heart attack and cancer), according to the National Stroke Registry, which was initiated in 2009.
Tracy Chan, head of rehabilitation from the National Stroke Association of Malaysia (Nasam) said the people should never underestimate the importance of a balanced diet and exercise.
She urged employers to provide a more conducive environment for their workers to exercise and healthier meal options at cafeterias.
Chan also encouraged parents to understand what a healthy lifestyle entails and put it into practice.
“Parents with a healthy lifestyle will in turn train their children to be healthy,” she said.
For those who have already suffered a stroke, Nasam provides holistic care and rehabilitation.
“Recovery is not just about getting the patients to move. We aim to empower them to pick up the pieces.
“We offer long-term follow-ups for stroke patients. Our aim is to prevent their condition from deteriorating.
“Most importantly, we try to prevent a second stroke,” she said.
As part of its treatment programme, Nasam provides physiotherapy, occupational therapy, as well as speech and language therapy to get patients back on their feet and enhance their quality of life.
Apart from healthcare providers, stroke patients would greatly benefit from the support and understanding of loved ones.
This could make all the difference in the life of a stroke patient.
With proper care, there is life after stroke.
Date of Input: 01/11/2021 | Updated: 16/11/2021 | amirahhani
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