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Monday October 28, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday October 28, 2013 MYT 2:29:54 PM
by vanes devindran
Awareness: Dr Jerip (third from left) with (from left) the event’s technical advisor Dr Mohd Asri Riffin, state deputy Health (Medical Division) director Dr Chin Zhin Hing, Dr Zulkifli and Dr Sim at the state-level World Stroke Day 2013 campaign in Kuching.
Stroke cases have reached a worrying stage with Sarawak General Hospital alone registering nearly 400 cases so far this year. A neurologist says the state is still lacking when it comes to addressing the rising number of people suffering from the disease, which is among the leading five causes of death in the country.
KUCHING: Even with the absence of a comprehensive data on stroke cases in Sarawak, the number of patients admitted at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) is alarming.
From last January till this month, the hospital’s medical department alone recorded close to 400 stroke patients.
Its neurologist Dr Sim Siew Hung revealed that if one were to count the neurosurgical department in, then the monthly average would be a hundred patients who were either treated for blockage or bleeding of the blood vessels in the brain.
“This is alarming because we know that if they come in with a stroke, they will go home with a disability,” she told a press conference here after the launch of the state-level World Stroke Day 2013 at Batu Kawa Health Clinic here yesterday.
Public Health Assistant Minister Datuk Dr Jerip Susil officiated at the event and was accompanied by state Health Department director Datuk Dr Zulkifli Jantan.
Dr Sim said stroke was one of the top five causes of death in Malaysia and it was imperative that the public knew what stroke was, the types of stroke, the risk factors involved and most importantly, how to recognise the symptoms.
She said Sarawak still lacked comprehensive data on stroke cases but the hospital was working closely with the Health Department to come up with a programme to gather the data to get a clearer picture of the situation.
She said it was crucial for people to take responsibility for their health and to know the risk factors. She stressed that when it came to treating stroke, time was of the essence and made a big difference in recovery.
“Many just brush it (symptoms) aside as numbness and they think it will go away. But when they do come in (to seek medical help) they have already been hit with a major stroke and its often too late. So what health practitioners came up with to recognise the symptoms of a stroke, is FAST which stands for ‘Face, Arm, Speech and Telephone’,” she said.
“For Face, have the patient smile of show their teeth. It is abnormal when one side of the face does not move as well as the other side. For Arm, ask the patient to close his/her eyes and extend both arms straight out for 10 seconds. It is abnormal when one arm does not move or drift down compared to the other.
“In the case of Speech, ask the patient to repeat: ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. It is abnormal when the patient uses the wrong words or unable to speak clearly.
“If any of these three signs shows abnormality, telephone the nearest hospital for an ambulance.”
Dr Sim said SGH also provides the Acute Thrombolysis Service whereby if a patient comes in with a blockage in the blood vessels, a clot busting agent would be administered.
However, she said, prior to that a brain scan, an assessment, and a blood test needs to be done to determine whether the patient was suitable for the treatment.
Furthermore, she said, the time at which the patient came in was a critical determining factor whether the treatment could be administered.
“If treatment is administered to a suitable patient within the first 4.5 hours from the onset of the stroke, then very likely the patient would go home without disability. If they come in too late, then it cannot be done,” she said.
She said the treatment had been available in the US since 1995, adding that Singapore and Brunei also carried out this treatment.
“There is complication of bleeding but the result for suitable patients is great. Worldwide statistics shows that there is 30% improvement in three months and there is either minimal or no disability. If they come in within the first three hours, it’s even better. Timing and individual risk factors must be considered before administering this treatment,” she said.
As such, she advised the public to go straight in to the emergency room if a stroke was suspected instead of going to a general practitioner.
Earlier, Dr Jerip in his speech said world figure showed that 15 million people got hit by stroke a year, of which five million died and another five million suffered permanent disabilities.
“Many of the stroke cases are ‘Ischemic stroke’ that make up about 85%, while the other 15% is ‘heamorrhagic stroke’,” he said.
Dr Jerip said such an event proved to be a crucial information platform for the public so they would be motivated to switch to a healthier lifestyle. Strokes are classified as either hemorrhagic, ischemic or a transient ischemic attack (TIA)
Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures while ischemic occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain.
Whereas TIA is caused by a temporary clot. Often called a “mini stroke”, these warning strokes should be taken very seriously.
Homebased rehabilitation interim measure for stroke victims
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Health, East Malaysia, stroke
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