At least 50 per cent of stroke patients in the UAE are below the age of 45, which is an alarming statistic that calls for urgent lifestyle changes and an increase in awareness, according to a senior doctor.

In the UAE, after road accidents, stroke is the second leading cause of disability. Annually 8,000-10,000 patients in the UAE get a stroke – this means every hour, one person gets a stroke.

Approximately 8,000 to 10,000 patients get a stroke per year in the UAE, said Dr Suhail Al Rukn, stroke and neurology consultant and head of stroke unit at Rashid Hospital.

“Fifty per cent of the stroke patients in the UAE are below the age of 45 years, as compared to the global average, where 80 per cent of stroke patients are above the age of 65 years. For the UAE, this is an alarming statistic and calls for urgent lifestyle changes and increase in awareness,” he warned.

Stating the reason for such high numbers, Dr Al Rukn said that the sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, obesity, dependence on fatty foods and a diet high in salts were some causes.

“In the UAE, 18 to 20 per cent of the population is obese, 20 per cent of population are diabetics. Moreover, high salt consumption is a major issue. The average amount of salt needed on a daily basis is two grammes, however, the average amount of salt people in the UAE consume per day is 15 grammes, which is way above the required limit,” he added.

Dr Al Rukn said stroke is third leading cause of death in the world and the main reason for adult disability. According to the latest data by the World Health Organisation in upper, middle-income countries, stroke is the leading cause of death, followed by cardiac diseases.

Internationally, the number is 100 to 120 cases per 100,000 so we are within the international range. However, in the UAE, stroke patients are much younger than those in western countries.

He said that it is essential for people to be aware of risk factors, to conduct yearly health screenings and those with one or more risk factors can opt for the stroke risk calculator test, which tabulates the likelihood of a person getting a stroke in the next 10 years.

Dr Al Rukn said the risk factors include diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, heart disease, previous stroke, alcohol, age: above 55 years.


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