By now, you may have heard about the puzzling increase in stroke incidences among young adults in Malaysia.
If you’re a young Malaysian, fret not. Despite the concerning trend, there are many steps you can take to lower your risk and live a happy, healthy life. Time to empower yourself with knowledge on the risk factors and symptoms of a stroke for better control of your health!
In Malaysia, there are over 40,000 incidences of stroke a year. In fact, it is the second leading cause of death and disability in the country.
Getting a stroke is traditionally associated with the elderly, but the statistics now paint a different picture. Young adults, individuals typically in the prime of their lives, are increasingly falling victim to this silent health threat.
This was shown in the “Monitoring Stroke Burden in Malaysia” report, which proved there was a substantial increase in stroke incidence among those below 65 years old - stroke among men between 35–39 years old saw the largest jump of 53.3% compared to a 50.4% jump in women 35-39 years old.
There are several risk factors that are unique to young adults. Lifestyle choices, chronic health conditions, and genetic predispositions all play a role in elevating the risk of stroke in this demographic.
In the contemporary work landscape, the shift towards desk-bound jobs has fostered a sedentary lifestyle among young adults.
When you couple this with the increased reliance on technology, this sedentary lifestyle contributes to poor blood circulation - a factor that can trigger stroke.
To mitigate this, make sure you put in time to exercise in your busy daily routines. You can also include other simple measures, like taking more short breaks to stretch or opting for stairs - these tweaks may seem simple but do wonders for better cardiovascular health.
The dietary habits popular among young adults have a direct impact on stroke risk. High consumption of processed foods, excessive salt, and unhealthy fats pave the way for conditions like hypertension and obesity.
Adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while minimising the consumption of processed and high-sodium foods can significantly reduce the likelihood of a stroke.
The relentless pace of modern life has given rise to heightened levels of chronic stress, triggering physiological responses in the body, such as increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure - leading to inflammation and damage to blood vessels, putting you at an increased risk of a stroke.
Therefore, recognising the importance of mental health is a crucial aspect of stroke prevention. Incorporate stress-reducing practices, such as mindfulness, meditation, and regular physical exercise to help with stress, and you’ll be alright.
A stroke is an emergency situation, and symptoms may happen out of nowhere. Each incidence may be different, but here are some things to look out for:
Less common symptoms of stroke include:
The treatment journey for stroke in young adults includes acute interventions such as clot-busting medications, medical procedures, and rehabilitation therapies. Experts have found that fast, accurate diagnosis of stroke is vital to reduce the severity of stroke.
For example, timely administration of clot-busting drugs like intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IV tPA) can dissolve blood clots, mitigating the severity of the stroke. In cases where surgery is required, the doctor may also consider an endovascular mechanical thrombectomy treatment.
Meanwhile, rehabilitation therapies, including physical and occupational therapy, play a pivotal role in restoring functionality and promoting independence, but this comes with its own challenges.
Stroke rehabilitation for young adults is tough, not only on their physical body but also on their emotional and cognitive states. Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata: https://www.pexels.com/photo/male-doctor-massaging-shoulders-of-patient-5473182/.
For young adults, employment and personal goals form a crucial part of their identity and stability. Young adults are busier with goals with a long life ahead of them. Hence. the potential disability resulting from a stroke can pose physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges, making it harder to maintain employment.
Even though stroke rehabilitation for young adults is tough, research shows age-appropriate rehabilitation programs can greatly help in navigating these multifaceted challenges.
As a young adult, the first step is to recognise that your health is your responsibility.
If you’re currently living a sedentary lifestyle with heightened stress levels, it is never too late. There are many proactive steps you can take toward healthier living. This includes watching what you eat, sleeping well and exercising, on top of preparing for the rising costs of living and healthcare.
Giving your future self some breathing room in the event of financial burden from critical illnesses, including stroke, can go a long way. A good critical illness plan that includes coverage of stroke goes beyond just being a safety blanket for your finances - it can help you make a full recovery while maintaining quality of life.
Starting from only RM7.60 a month, i-Protect Plus financially protects you against 5 common critical illnesses including stroke. Get an instant quote at fwd.com.my/i2u/i-protect. With enough push and education, Malaysians can mitigate the surge in stroke incidences among young adults in the country.