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Stroke cases among youth on the rise


Stroke is a silent killer and the number of people, majorly the youth, succumbing to stroke has been on the rise, according to the President of the Oman Stroke Society.

Worldwide, 15 million people suffer stroke every year and of these, 5 million die and another 5 million are left permanently disabled, placing a burden on family and community.

Although stroke is quite uncommon in people under 40 years, it has been the second leading cause of death and third leading cause for disability worldwide.

The main cause of stroke has been attributed to high blood pressure and stroke in young individuals is shocking thanks to the unhealthy lifestyle that is fast becoming a brooding ground for diseases.

Speaking to the Observer, on the sidelines of the launch of stroke unit at the Oman International Hospital on Wednesday, Dr Amal al Hashmi, Founder and President of Oman Stroke Society said that although we don’t have a registry or statistics on stroke incidents, the number of stroke patients has been on the rise and there have been attempts to address this issue.

"There has been an increase of stroke cases across the world by 15 per cent out of which 40 per cent increase comes from the MENA region and Oman is not behind. According to various statistical reports, the major reason of stroke underlies in the fact that Oman has an increasing number of factors that contribute to the hike in strokes," she said.

Some of the modifiable risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension are on the rise in the region and this can lead to severe consequences. People with chronic diseases should be encouraged to modify their lifestyle to help them ward off stroke as this will help 35 per cent of reducing the chances of stroke among the youth population.

A quick look at the major reasons show that smoking increases the chances of stroke by 5 times than non-smoker while consumption of alcohol increases the chances by 5 times than the non-alcoholic. Likewise, immobility and sedentary lifestyle are also villains in stroke while drug addiction and consumption of other intoxications put life at a great risk of strokes.

“In Oman, stroke-related deaths contribute to approximately 6.58 per cent of the total deaths, with the age-adjusted mortality rate being 39.08 per 100,000. The risk factors of stroke include hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidaemia, cardiac diseases, family history, smoking, alcohol, physical activity and obesity,” Dr Amal, who is also a Senior Consultant, Neurologist (Vascular) at Khoula Hospital and Founder of Stroke Programme Oman, said.

Dr Amal said that sports injuries can lead to certain types of strokes as people are often dehydrated which may lead to venus stroke and major trauma or trivial trauma can be the result. Sports under less supervision can lead to strokes and stroke among the young are caused by a plethora of reasons some of which are related to drugs. While some are related to congenital malformation that can manifest itself at a very late stage of life, say, thirties or forties not in the early stages. However, they are commonest causes of stroke among the youth by far.

Additionally, there are non-traditional risk factor for developing stroke in the young such as lifestyle such as smoking, alcohol consumption, eating unhealthy food and having no or less exercise in life.

Dr Amal advocates prevention is the best way to save people from stroke and its after maths and campaigns have helped people reporting stroke signs on time.

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