PETALING JAYA: Six new cases of stroke occur every hour in Malaysia, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
He said it was surprising that about 52,000 Malaysians suffered strokes annually when it is the most preventable of all life-threatening health problems.
“In 2005, 17,909 stroke victims were admitted into government hospitals alone throughout the country. Of these, 3,245 of them were fatal. By 2020, this figure is expected to exceed 25,000 every year.
“Many of the risk factors for stroke can be controlled if people change their lifestyle and also exercise regularly,” he said after launching a book entitled Understanding Stroke by the National Stroke Association of Malaysia (Nasam).
Dr Chua said the main reason for the increasing number of stroke cases was that many Malaysians leading an unhealthy lifestyle, including being obese, smoking and failure to control hypertension, high cholesterol level and diabetes.
“Hypertension, which is a major risk factor for stroke, is scarily becoming prevalent among Malaysians.
Helping hand: Nasam speech therapist Dyani Thiruchelvam helping stroke victim Yeo Beng Poh, 79, with a drink. Nasam has been commended for educating the public
“According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey in 1986, hypertension was prevalent among 14.4% of adult Malaysians aged 30 years and above. “In 1996, the figure had jumped to 29.9%, which is equivalent to a 100% increase,” he said.
Dr Chua said one of the ministry’s strategies for health-related diseases such as stroke was to organise health-promotion activities.
“Some RM37mil has been allocated to the newly set-up Health Promotion Board to provide funding to health-related NGOs and professional health associations to act as catalysts to promote the culture of healthy living among Malaysians.
“I believe strongly that we should focus more on the prevention than the treatment of diseases.” he said.
Dr Chua commended Nasam for the publication of Understanding Stroke and educating the public on how to reduce the risks of stroke.
The book will be distributed widely to educate the public on stroke prevention and what to do in the event of a stroke.
Nasam chairman Janet Yeo said most of the time people thought they would not suffer a stroke.
“And, when it does happen, it is too late to regret not having done the right things to avoid it,” she said.
National Stroke Association of Malaysia
Ministry of Health Malaysia