Editorial comment – Concern over strokes

THE fact that the youngest stroke victim in Fiji is a 12-year-old is shocking.

Counterstroke Fiji president Elizabeth Reade Fong said strokes could happen to anyone no matter how old or how young the person was.

Statistics, she said, suggest that one out of four people in the world suffered from a stroke. It was thus important, she said, that strokes are prevented.

Every day three people, she said, were admitted to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital Stroke Unit. There were two types of strokes common in Fiji.

“One happens when there is a burst in the brain and one is when there is a clot, either way it’s going to cause pain and it needs attention,” she said.

“Many of us who have not had a stroke just wake up and do things normally, but a stroke person does not have that luxury. They need to think carefully ‘can I move this arm or no’.”

Stroke victims, she said, faced many challenges.

“Challenges of speech. If you can’t speak it’s very hard to speak, balance, eyesight, walking and memory, bladder control, strength and movement of arms and legs, understanding of space and directions and control of emotion.”

The reality is that a person suffering from a stroke, she said, could have permanent brain damage if not treated early.

“You have to remember that the longer the stroke remains untreated the bigger the chances of the brain being permanently damaged,” she said during a workshop for caregivers in Suva this week.

“If you see someone having a stroke, the important thing is to get them to the hospital for treatment.”

She said “normally in our culture the first thing we do is to take the patient to a village doctor or a prayer group.

“I always tell everybody God gave the doctors the talent and the knowledge to help so pray to God to give the doctors the knowledge to help the patient.”

She said a stroke was always a medical emergency.

“It’s not like ‘OK I will just wait for two or three days then we take them to the hospital’. No, the person is suffering, the pain is coming from the head and it needs to be treated by a medical professional,” she said.

There can be no doubts whatsoever that strokes are medical emergencies that need urgent medical treatment.

Our challenge is to be aware of the causes of strokes, and how we go about addressing these issues.

For it to be effective though means creating a level of optimism and clarity on the issue, and what we can do to embrace the important things being done behind the scenes.

Now that we know the youngest stroke victim in Fiji is a 12-year-old is a concern.

If that is going to be the trend in the future, then the onus is on us to embrace the things we can control to get our lives back in order.

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