BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — The average age of stroke patients in Brunei is much younger than developed countries such as South Korea and the United States, according to a study from the Brunei Neuroscience Stroke and Rehabilitation Centre (BNSRC).

In Brunei, the mean age of stroke patients is 51 compared to 63 in South Korea and 68 in the US.

The study, which was conducted over the past two years, also showed that 65 percent of stroke patients are under the age of 60.

Pg Dr Hjh Siti Nur’ Ashikin Pg Dato Paduka Hj Tengah, director of BNSRC, said more research is needed to determine the cause of younger people suffering from stroke.

“Is it genetics? Is it culture? Is it behaviour?” she said during an event to commemorate World Stroke Day on Wednesday.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Brunei — increasing a whopping 57 percent over the past five years.

Brunei records up to 400 new cases of stroke each year, with 162 people killed by a stroke in 2019.

Chairman and deputy chairman of Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin (C) and YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham (2L) at an event to mark World Stroke Day. Photo: Courtesy of PJSC

Pg Dr Hjh Siti Nur’ Ashikin said more than half of stroke patients have multiple risk factors, including a worrying trend for illicit drug use.

Most risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, obesity and smoking can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle, and controlled with effective treatment, she said.

She added that the majority of stroke patients do not seek early treatment.

“One study showed that only 13 percent of patients arrived in hospital within the crucial 4.5 hour window to receive thrombolysis, whilst other studies have shown that delays are due to limited knowledge of stroke.”

The director said there is a need to continue public campaigns to encourage people to come to the hospital as soon as possible if they are experiencing stroke symptoms.

“Our patients are able to receive clot-busting treatment known as thrombolysis, and our centre has started to offer thrombectomy, a treatment to suck out blood clots from blocked blood vessels,” Pg Dr Hjh Siti Nur’ Ashikin said.

She added that stroke is the main cause of disability in Brunei and globally, and stressed that stroke-related disabilities can be devastating for patients, affecting their livelihood and families.