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Why Stroke Matters

A picture says a thousand words.

I wish Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili the very best of health as he recovers from his “extreme exhaustion”.

From the article:

KOTA KINABALU: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili has shared a picture of his daughter visiting him in hospital where he is being warded due to “extreme exhaustion”.

Ongkili’s absence on the first day of the highly-anticipated Parliament session earlier this week was not due to a stroke.

Since the article mentions stroke as a possible cause of the Minister’s “extreme exhaustion”, I think this would be a good opportunity to educate the public on stroke.

First of all, why does stroke matter in the grand scheme of things? According to the World Stroke Organization:

  • This year 14.5 million people will have a stroke, 5.5 million people will die as a result.
  • 80 million people have survived stroke worldwide.
  • Many stroke survivors face significant challenges that include physical disability, communication difficulties, changes in how they think and feel, loss of work, income and social networks.

Time Is Brain

In managing heart attacks, medical students are taught early on that ‘time is myocardium’, in other words, the faster you treat the condition, the more heart tissue is saved.

Similarly, in stroke cases, ‘time is brain’.

In fact, researchers have calculated that someone who has just had a stroke loses about 2 million nerve cells for every single minute that the stroke is left untreated!

So then, how do you recognise a stroke?

One of the easiest ways is to use the FAST test, where:

F is for Face
A is for Arms
S is for Speech
T is for Time

Basically, the idea is that whenever you see someone having problems (for example, weakness or numbness) with their face, arms or legs, and/or speech, then please call the ambulance and bring them to a hospital as soon as possible.

Here is a video showing you how to do the FAST test.

Granted, these are not necessarily the only symptoms and signs of a stroke, but the FAST test is a pretty decent way for someone with no specialist knowledge to spot a stroke.

Lastly, if you’re interested in helping out with stroke in Malaysia, the Malaysia Stroke Council is one avenue where you can contribute. Thank you for reading.

By Imran Idris

I am a husband, father, son, neurologist, neuroscientist-in-training, Tolkien-fan, and owner of two toy wombats named Mulder and Scully.