Health x Wellness

MOH launches ‘Timing is Everything’ annual Stroke Awareness campaign

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The Ministry of Health’s Stroke Services Improvement team launches annual Stroke Awareness campaign focused on early stroke detection.

The “Timing is Everything” campaign will run until December. It seeks to raise awareness and share information about the importance of acting quickly when spotting signs of stroke, and to impress upon the public that early stroke detection can lead to better recovery and quality of life outcomes post-stroke.

It bears reminding that stroke is a preventable disease.

Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by making lifestyle modifications and addressing risk factors early on. These include controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and diabetes, having a healthy diet and regular exercise. The lifestyle modifications include quitting or not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy body weight.

According to a study, 25 to 30 percent of sedentary individuals are more likely to have a stroke than their peers who are more physically active. Te sedentary lifestyle has become more common as organisations adopt remote and hybrid workplace arrangements leading to workers having fewer opportunities for physical activity.

The 2019 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD), also indicates there has been a substantial shift of stroke risk burden towards metabolic factors. The top three factors that contributed to stroke include high systolic blood pressure (high blood pressure), high body-mass index (obesity), and high fasting plasma glucose (diabetes).

What happens when a stroke occurs?

A stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is disrupted and causes damage, leading to loss of functions resulting in the symptoms of stroke. It is a time-sensitive medical condition. Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability.

An estimated 12 million brain cells die for every minute a stroke is left untreated. This is the context behind the theme of this year’s campaign – “Timing is everything”.

Timing is Everything campaign focuses on spotting signs of stroke

The campaign will reinforce the quick identification of stroke signs and symptoms, as well as actions to take when a stroke occurs.

Stroke can be spotted with the acronym F.A.S.T. F is for Face drooping, A is for Arm weakness, S is for Speech difficulty, and T is for Time to call 995.

Being able to spot the signs, and detect stroke early can make a big difference of a stroke victim’s life.

Additionally, Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIA) or mini-strokes, have the same symptoms as an actual stroke but they typically get better within a few minutes.

However, TIAs are often followed by an actual (more severe) stroke. Therefore, mini-strokes and strokes in which the symptoms may seem to be improving are also emergencies and should not be dismissed. The same action of calling for an ambulance should be taken.

Prompt medical attention allows for an early assessment and treatment for better recovery and reduced risk of stroke recurrence.

Many stroke patients do not come to hospital because the symptoms are improving, have resolved or they hope they will improve with time so they wait and do not call an ambulance. When they do come to hospital later, we may not be able to offer early treatments which are proven to result in better outcomes or to start medications to reduce early stroke recurrence. Timing is everything. Even if symptoms seem mild or ‘disappear’, it is vital to call 995 immediately! In stroke, time is brain and minutes matter.

Associate Professor Deidre De Silva, Chair, Stroke Service Improvement team, Ministry of Health and Head & Senior Consultant, Department of Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute (Singapore General Hospital Campus)

Picture credit: Spot Stroke Facebook Page