What is Stroke?
In Malaysia, stroke is the most common critical illness and usually will have some disabilities after a stroke. There was a total number of 14,396 cases reported across 11 states in Malaysia between 2012 and March 2019.
What is a stroke? Stroke is a medical emergency condition when there is a blockage or rupture at the blood vessel and it will reduce the blood supply which carries oxygen and nutrients towards the brain. When insufficient oxygens and nutrients supply to the brain, the brain cell will begin to die.
Risk Factors of Stroke
1. Hypertension / High Blood Pressure
According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey done in 2019, there are 6.4 million people in Malaysia who have hypertension and only half of them are aware they have the disease. Hypertension is the most risk factor and also the most important cause of stroke. Hypertension will cause thickening of human's arteries and it will lead to stroke.
2. High Cholesterol / Hyperlipidaemia
Fatty deposits will develop in blood arteries when there is too much cholesterol in the blood and this will make the arteries narrowed and stiff, and limit the blood flow to the brain. This may also increase the chance of blood clots developing. There are 4 in 10 people in Malaysia have raised total cholesterol level but only 63% those who on medication have their cholesterol levels controlled.
When there is an increase in blood sugar level, this may cause damage to blood vessels and cause fatty deposits to develop that lead to a blood clot which can cause a stroke. According to the National Diabetes Registry Report 2013 - 2019, Selangor has the highest number of diabetes patients (232,054 patients) in Malaysia.
4. Smoking and Alcohol Consumption
Smoking and alcohol consumption will double the risk of having a stroke due to smoking and alcohol intake will contribute to a number of medical conditions that are risk factors for stroke such as hypertension, diabetes and being overweight and indirectly lead to stroke.
5. History of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the second most important risk factor for stroke and this is the major cause of death among stroke survivors.
Based on a survey done in 2019, 1 in 2 adults in Malaysia was obese and there is 60.9% of obesity among 55 - 59 years old age group. Obesity can increase the risk of stroke due to the excess fatty tissue will cause inflammation. This will lead to difficulty in blood flow and also increase the risk of blockage that will cause a stroke.
7. Family History of Stroke
People with a family history of stroke are also likely to share common environments and other potential factors that will increase the risk of getting a stroke.
How to recognise stroke immediately?
(source: The Star)
Spot the signs of stroke by using "FAST":
i) Facial drooping
ii) Arm weakness
iii) Speech difficulties
iv) Call 999 immediately
"FAST" helps to spot the three most common symptoms of a stroke but there are other signs and symptoms of stroke:
i) Sudden weakness or numbness of one side of the body
ii) Sudden blurred vision
iii) Sudden memory loss or confusion
iv) Sudden fall
v) Sudden and severe headache
How Physiotherapy Can Help in Stroke Recovery?
Patients after a stroke may develop numbness, muscle weakness, unable to control movement, unable to walk independently and so on. So, physiotherapy after the event of stroke will help patients and families to regain functional movement and confidence in living an independent life.
Here are some examples items that physiotherapy can help with: