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Salim Khan, 59, suffered a severe stroke but his symptoms reversed as he was brought within 45 minutes to hospital. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: As the incidence of strokes continues to soar in the UAE, the country is all set of have over 12 stroke management centres by 2019 spread throughout the country, said a top neurologist.

Over 800 stroke victims were treated at Rashid Hospital stroke centre last year, which is an indicator of the high incidence of stroke. Besides this the average age for occurrence of stroke is 45 in the UAE which is much lower than the world average of 60 years.

Speaking to Gulf News ahead of World Stroke Day (October 29), Dr Suhail Al Rokn, head of the Rashid Hospital Stroke Unit, said: “From the high numbers of stroke patients treated at Rashid Hospital alone, one can get an idea of how many more there are. Therefore, we have opened four centres in Dubai alone in the last four years, two in Abu Dhabi with additional two coming up next year and about three in northern emirates. From zero stroke management centres in 2014, by 2019, UAE will have 12 stroke management centres.”

Time and stroke protocols are very important in the management of stroke episodes, said Dr Mohammad Kaylani, consultant neurologist at Rashid Hospital stroke unit. “If a patient is brought to the ER within four hours of the episode and the Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA, a clot busting agent) is administered then it averts severe damage that the clot could cause by blocking off blood supply to the brain. So, any wasting away of muscle of loss of sensation a patient may have suffered recovers completely restoring movement and taking away the drooping of the mouth and hand that one typically sees in a stroke patient.”

Describing new medical interventions, Dr Al Rokn added: “Now some hospitals have introduced Thrombectomy (excising the thrombolysis or clot) for acute stroke intervention. We use early imaging and CT angiogram to get an idea of the occlusion in the brain which is subsequently removed surgically. The clot is excised using a special device thereby restoring the blood supply to that section of the brain and minimising the damage. We at Rashid Hospital have successfully treated over a 100 patients with this procedure.”

Timely action

Reaching hospital in time reversed Salim Khan’s stroke damage.

On October 21, Salim Khan, 59, a Pakistani expatriate who was preparing for his evening prayer suddenly collapsed while he was washing his hands. He was rushed to the Rashid Hospital emergency. Dr Javed Dar consultant neurologist at the hospital told Gulf News: “Upon examination, we found all classic stroke symptoms of slurred speech, severe weakness of the left arm and leg. The patient had suffered a massive cerebral stroke in the right side of his brain. We administered the clot busting TPA and then transferred him to the ICU. Later, a CT angiogram revealed a massive clot in the brain and the surgeons performed a thrombectomy to surgically remove the clot. Since the patient came within the four hour golden window, and the steps we took restored his blood supply, he was able to walk within four days and is awaiting discharge.”

Khan said: “I am so relieved that I was able to get back my mobility. I have worked for the pharmaceutical sector in Karachi and was aware of the stroke awareness programme. However, I neglected following it here. But I am thankful to God that I have this second chance and will make sure to be vigilant and also create awareness among my friends.”

Are you having a stroke?

If you suspect you are having a stroke, follow the F.A.S.T acronym that is internationally accepted as a sure sign of stroke.

•Face drooping: A section of the face going numb and drooping on one side.

•Arm weakness: Inability to lift your arm.

•Speech difficulty: Slurring of speech and failure to understand speech.

•Time is of the essence: Call the emergency. Reach a hospital with someone who can inform the nurse that you are having a stroke. Immediate intervention is required.