BRUNEI-MUARA – Brunei is facing an epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as hypertension, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and obesity, which has contributed to the upward trend of stroke incidences.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in Brunei, said the director of the Brunei Neuroscience Stroke and Rehabilitation Centre (BNSRC) on Sunday.

Hospitals in Brunei see at least 300 new stroke cases every year, warranting the need to raise awareness on the disease, said Dk Dr Siti Nur’Ashikin Pg Dato Paduka Hj Tengah.

This awareness includes the impact on people on a personal level, she added, as stroke can affect one’s ability to walk, speak, think, interact and work.

“Stroke is the leading cause of disability in Brunei. If you lose your independence, this will definitely cause you to feel depressed.

“This means stroke survivors [and their family] need a lot of support. Often we see people getting isolated after a stroke. They do not want to go out and interact. We have to remember them and make them feel part of our society,” Dk Dr Siti Nur’Ashikin said in a recent interview with The Scoop.

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The Minister of Health, YB Dato Seri Setia Dr. Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar(C), shows his support at the Brunei Neuroscience Stroke and Rehabilitation Centre’s (BNSRC) stroke awareness roadshow on Sunday, November 18, 2018 held at Times Square Shopping Complex, Berakas. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

In conjunction with World Stroke Day 2018, the Brunei Neuroscience Stroke and Rehabilitation Centre recently organised a campaign to raise awareness on stroke and its impact.

The theme for this year’s World Stroke Day is “Up Again After Stroke”, highlighting the need to provide support to stroke survivors.

“In a lot of countries, people are empowered to go back to work even after a stroke ,and this is the culture that we need to be cultivated here in Brunei,” said the BNSRC director.

“Prevention is key. We know that eight out of 10 strokes are preventable through healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, healthy diet and quitting smoking [which] are some of the things that we can do.”

She explained that it is vital to go to hospital as soon as possible if you think you are experiencing a stroke.

“Use the ‘BE FAST’ acronym to identify a possible stroke as quickly as possible. If you see any impairment in terms of of balance [B], eyes [E], face [F], arm [A] and speech [S], you need to come to hospital immediately or call 991.”

Visitors browsing one of the booths set up at the Brunei Neuroscience Stroke and Rehabilitation Centre’s (BNSRC) stroke awareness roadshow on Sunday, November 18, 2018 held at Times Square Shopping Complex, Berakas. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

As for timeliness, stroke is a medical emergency where every minute counts. If symptoms are present, seek medical attention right away, even if symptoms seem to disappear.

“Stroke is life changing and we need to recognise the battle being fought by stroke survivors and their families,” the doctor added. 

“We should aim for a life filled with meaning and this means including stroke survivors and their families in our community, rather than isolating them.”

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