DUBAI // About 50 per cent of all stroke patients in the UAE are under the age of 45, compared with the global average of 80 per cent being 65 or older.
Years of eating fatty foods, drinking alcohol and smoking are seen as triggers in an older population, but it is not clear why so many younger people are suffering strokes, which are classed as a serious brain injury.
“There are risk factors – some we can modify, like lifestyle, others like age and genetics we cannot,” said Dr Khalid Anwar, a consultant at Amana Healthcare, which specialises in stroke recovery.
“Populations from South Asia are more at risk due to genetics and lifestyle habits leading to high diabetes, obesity and hypertension. We see a lot of strokes in the younger population in the UAE, which is unusual.”
Up to 10,000 strokes are recorded each year.
In the UAE, about 18 to 20 per cent of the population is obese, with 20 per cent having diabetes or pre-diabetes. High salt consumption is another major issue.
The average amount of salt needed each day is 2 grams but the average amount of salt people in the UAE eat a day is 15 grams.
People over the age of 30 should check their blood pressure every year, as there is a strong link between hypertension and stroke.
It is the third-leading cause of death in the world and the main reason for adult disability.
The latest data by the World Health Organisation shows that in upper middle-income countries stroke is the leading cause of death, followed by heart disease.
“While there is no correlation between fasting and strokes, those with diabetes or high blood pressure need to continue their medication so they have to be very careful during Ramadan,” Dr Anwar said.
“Not enough emphasis is being placed on rehabilitation of stroke patients. It is so important to them and their families.”