Time is of essence in surviving a stroke, says BNSRC Director

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ ANN) - Annually, some 400 stroke cases occur in the country, and it is important for people to get help fast if they experience symptoms of stroke such as face drooping, arm weakness or speech difficulty because time is of the essence in treating stroke.

This was stated by Director of the Brunei Neuroscience Stroke and Rehabilitation Centre (BNSRC) and Consultant Neurologist Dr Dayangku Siti Nur’Ashikin binti Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Tengah.

Speaking with the Weekend Bulletin yesterday on the sidelines of a press conference to announce Brunei’s first successful mechanical thrombectomy (clot removal) for stroke on a young patient at the Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre, Dr Dayangku Nur’Ashikin said stroke is largely treatable, but urged patients to go to hospital emergency, or call 911, as soon as possible to get help.

"Even if not fatal, strokes can devastate a patient’s life as well as the lives of his/her family members. Think about what happens if someone who is aged 45 or 50 hit by a stroke. We have a lot of youngsters in Brunei falling victims to stroke; the patient who underwent the first mechanical thrombectomy is just 33 years old. Can you imagine what happens if they do not survive the stroke? They can be a husband, a father and the breadwinner of the family and what would be the family’s plight if they cannot go back to work, cannot play with their young children? In the case of other diseases, they can still walk out of the hospital and carry on with life, but disability as a result of strokes can drastically change one’s life. Thus, the more you can do to prevent this type of disease from taking hold, the better," she said.

"Conservatively speaking, I think we have about 400 stroke cases in a year. BNSRC treats about 200-300 patients a year and some are treated at the government hospitals due to other (medical) reasons, for example if a patient has stomach disease or any other such illness, we have to keep them in the main hospital and that is why the collaboration between the Ministry of Health and BNSRC is so important, because strokes isn’t just about the brain, but it also related to diabetes and so on," she added.

Touching on the mechanical thrombectomy procedure, she said, "It is safe, and conservatively, it can help in at least about 10 per cent of the cases. What we are going to do is to build up on our capabilities to perform this treatment."

She pointed out that the main causes of strokes in Brunei are high-blood pressure, diabetes, high-cholesterol and smoking. "By reducing high-blood pressure and diabetes rates as well as encouraging people to stop smoking, we can reduce strokes," she said, adding that "it all comes down by practising a healthy life-style, eating in moderation and exercising more, etc."

Earlier in the press conference, she informed that in conjunction with the World Stroke Day on October 29, BNSRC will be launching a major campaign in collaboration with the Ministry of Health to raise awareness on stroke.

"We will mark this occasion on November 18, and there will be a series of events to promote stroke awareness. We want to make sure people having a stroke come to hospital early, so that we can give them the best treatment. And we want to ensure that everyone in the country is aware of the danger of strokes and the fact that prevention is better than cure. This is in line with the government’s efforts to control and prevent non-communicable diseases, and we are making all these initiatives in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other governmental and non-governmental organisations," she added.