Did you know that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Singapore? Although stroke is commonly thought to be more prevalent among the elderly, but in reality, it can affect anyone, regardless of age and background. In fact, studies have shown that there is a rising number of stroke incidences among young people.
According to Singapore Stroke Registry, the number of stroke incidences in the age group of 40 to 49 years has increased by 24 per 100,000 population between 2010 and 2020. This is a cause for concern as young stroke victims may have to live with a disability for a longer period of time (compared to older individuals), which can adversely affect their ability to work, engage in social activities, and live a fulfilling life.
We can reduce our risk of suffering from a stroke and the severity of its complications by understanding its causes and warning signs, and seeking prompt medical attention if we experience any of these symptoms.
Three common types of stroke
A stroke is a medical condition that occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. A stroke can cause severe damage to brain cells and tissues, leading to temporary or lasting paralysis and potentially life-changing consequences. There are three main types of strokes:
#1 Ischemic Stroke
An ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage in the blood vessels, which cuts off the blood supply to the brain. This blockage can be caused by fatty deposits accumulating on the blood vessels walls.
#2 Haemorrhagic stroke
This type of stroke occurs when blood vessels rupture or leak in or around the brain. As a result, the blood accumulates and creates pressure on the surrounding brain tissues, resulting in inflammation and swelling in the brain, potentially leading to brain damage and in some cases, death.
These brain bleeds can be caused by a brain aneurysm - a ballooning of a weakened region of a blood vessel; or an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) - a cluster of abnormally formed blood vessels.
#3 Transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) is caused by a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain. Its symptoms typically last a short time and stop when the blockage moves away. Although it does not usually lead to lasting brain damage, having a TIA is a warning that you are at risk of suffering from subsequent strokes. Hence, it is of utmost importance that you seek medical treatment immediately.
Time is of the essence
During a stroke, one can lose as many as two million nerve cells for every minute that passes without medical treatment. Early intervention and treatment of stroke victims are crucial to minimise the risk of permanent disability, paralysis and slurred speech, as well as to facilitate an easier recovery.
As such, it is essential for us to be aware of the warning signs of stroke so that we can respond swiftly should a stroke occur to us or a loved one.
The following FAST test can help you recognise the common symptoms of a stroke.
FAST stands for:
- Facial weakness
Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face, eye, or mouth droop?
- Arm weakness
Can the person raise both arms? Does one arm drift downwards?
- Speech difficulty
Can the person speak clearly? Can you understand him or her when she speaks? Does he have slurred speech?
- Time to act fast
Call 995 and seek medical intervention immediately.
Other common symptoms of stroke include confusion, dizziness, having difficulty walking, experiencing a sudden and severe headache (often described as "the worst headache ever had"), loss of balance and coordination, loss of vision or experiencing double vision, and loss of consciousness or coma. Symptoms associated with a stroke tend to appear suddenly and may progressively worsen over the following minutes or hours.
Prevention is better than cure
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. It is imperative for us to take proactive measures to prevent strokes and lessen the likelihood of experiencing their devastating consequences. We have put together five tips to reduce the risk of suffering from a stroke.
- Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levelsStudies have shown that hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) and hypertension (high blood pressure) are consistently the two most common risk factors among stroke patients throughout the years.Uncontrolled hypertension can also lead to a four-fold increase in the risk of stroke. Hence, it is important to take your medication regularly and make lifestyle changes (refer to #3, #4 and #5 below) to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check if you suffer from either of these conditions.
- Maintain a healthy body weightObesity can increase your risk of suffering from a stroke. Being obese can cause stress to the heart, increase blood pressure and raise cholesterol levels, which are all risk factors associated with stroke.
- Stop smokingBesides the detrimental impacts that smoking has on our health, such as lung cancer and heart disease, smoking also heightens the likelihood of having a stroke by 1.5 to 2.5 times, and doubles the risk of stroke fatality.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle and dietApart from taking medication regularly, maintaining a healthy lifestyle plays an essential role in keeping the blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. Regular exercise and a healthy diet not only help to maintain a healthy body weight, but also prevent and manage high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.AIA Vitality supports your health goals and rewards you for making healthy lifestyle choices. Simply clock your workouts and take part in the Weekly Fitness Challenge to earn additional perks while you work towards achieving better health.
- Go for regular health screeningsGoing for annual health screenings is important as these screenings can help identify potential health issues early, enabling timely treatment and management before they develop into more serious conditions.
A stroke can have long-lasting negative effects on your health and finances. Safeguard your financial stability and mitigate any potential financial challenges with AIA Absolute Critical Cover, which provides one of the most comprehensive coverage for 187 conditions. You can also consider the AIA MultiStage Critical Protector for a more affordable option, that covers you from six common critical illnesses, including stroke at early, intermediate, and major stage.
Take advantage of our ongoing promotions and protect your future today. From now till 31 January 2024, enjoy six months of complimentary coverage for 37 critical illnesses such as major cancers and paralysis, when you sign up for AIA Live Well*. With AIA Recharge CI Cover**, you can also enjoy 50% off your first year premiums for selected plans, including AIA MultiStage Critical Protector.
By taking active steps to prevent strokes and protect the well-being for our future, we are ensuring a better quality of life for ourselves and our loved ones.
*Application closes on 31 January 2024 or upon full redemption of 100,000 policies (whichever is earlier). AIA Live Well Campaign Terms & Conditions and Application Terms & Conditions apply.
** AIA Recharge CI Cover Promo 2023 Terms and Conditions apply.
- World Stroke Organization (WSO): Global Stroke Fact Sheet 2022 – World Stroke Organization
- Singapore Stroke Registry Annual Report 2020 – National Registry of Diseases Office
- Stroke: Conditions and Treatments – SingHealth
- 7 things you can do to prevent a stroke – Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School
- Stroke: 10 tips to reduce your risk – Healthxchange.sg
- Types of stroke – Stroke Association
- Why acting FAST when it comes to a stroke is so important – UK Health Security Agency