Stroke projected to become a leading cause of 10 million deaths by 2050

02 Nov 2023 08:57am
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX by Bernama
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX by Bernama

SHAH ALAM - Stroke is expected to become a leading cause of 10 million deaths by 2050, driven by several key factors.

Consultant neurologist from Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre Dr Wong Sing Keat highlighted the global aging population as a major contributing factor, based on a study by World Stroke Organization and the Lancet Neurology Commission.

"As the world's population continues to age, the risk of strokes, which is known to increase with age, is also on the rise.

"Unhealthy lifestyles also play a significant role, as sedentary habits, poor dietary choices, excessive salt consumption, smoking, and heavy alcohol use contribute to risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, all closely linked to strokes," he told Sinar Daily recently.

He further highlighted that limited access to healthcare services and medications in many regions leads to inadequate management of stroke risk factors.

"Health disparities related to access to healthcare and education create variations in stroke prevention and treatment, disproportionately affecting those with limited healthcare access," he said.

However, Dr Wong pointed out that awareness remains a challenge, with many individuals uninformed about stroke signs and symptoms, leading to delays in seeking vital medical attention and reducing the effectiveness of time-sensitive treatments.

"Environmental factors, including air pollution, exposure to toxins, and the impacts of climate change, can exacerbate health issues and elevate stroke risks.

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"The healthcare infrastructure in various regions may not be adequately equipped to handle the growing burden of stroke cases.

"Strokes are no longer exclusive to the elderly.

"Younger patients, as young as 39 years old, are increasingly affected.

"Raising awareness about strokes is essential among both the public and healthcare personnel," Dr Wong said.

Approximately one in four stroke survivors will experience another stroke, highlighting the importance of secondary prevention.

"Healthcare professionals play a crucial role in educating the public, regardless of age, about early symptom recognition using the BEFAST system, which stands for balance, eye blur, face asymmetry, arm weakness, speech slurred, and time to call for help.

"While heredity can be a contributing factor in rare cases, most strokes are primarily associated with an individual's lifestyle and daily choices rather than genetics.

"Positive lifestyle changes and effective risk factor management can prevent or mitigate the majority of strokes," he added.

Dr Wong explained that strokes generally fall into two main categories: ischemic strokes, caused by blood clots, and hemorrhagic strokes, resulting from bleeding.

"Ischemic strokes account for about 75 to 80 per cent of all strokes, while hemorrhagic strokes make up roughly 15 to 25 per cent.

"Ischemic strokes occur when a part of the brain is deprived of blood supply due to a clot, which may originate from various sources.

"On the other hand, hemorrhagic strokes typically result from hypertension or abnormal blood vessels," he said.