Data on strokes is a wake-up call

Health insurers have a vested interest in curbing the causes of strokes in the young

Poor diets high in fatty, processed food are leading causes of strokes. Ravindranath K / The National
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According to new data reported by The National, 50 per cent of stroke victims in this country are under the age of 45. Strokes are a serious brain injury that can lead to the loss of motor skills and death. Generally, older people are at higher risk of strokes, with the global average age of victims above 65. The high number of young patients here is a critical warning sign that our lifestyle choices need to change if we want to bring this problem under control.

Smoking, lack of physical exercise and poor diets high in fatty, processed food are leading causes of strokes around in the world. Roughly 20 per cent of our population is considered obese and an additional 20 per cent have some form of diabetes. The result is up to 10,000 strokes every year.

While the numbers are bleak, there are proven steps that can be taken to tackle this problem. However, practical measures must be adapted across various sectors of society to bring stroke numbers down. Healthy-living campaigns such as the one spearheaded by this newspaper are the first step towards educating residents about the effect of poor lifestyle and diet choices.

Additionally, healthcare providers need to take a leading role in providing preventive care and treatment to those at risk of lifestyle diseases. That means that doctors should encourage better diet choices, get patients to exercise on a regular basis and reduce the number of people that smoke.

Regular health screenings would also be helpful in monitoring the effect of poor lifestyle choices. Such a push would be in the interest of healthcare providers as healthier patients don’t take the health infrastructure to the same degree as unhealthy patients.

Insurance providers can further work with the Government to craft new healthy-living programmes and research the possibility of implementing a tax on cigarettes and, say, sugary drinks. There are proven measures that can be taken to reduce the risks of lifestyle choices. It is up to authorities to spearhead these measures across all parts of society.