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Stroke Surges as One of the Leading Causes of Death in Laos Amidst Neurologist Shortage

Source: The Star

The number of deaths by stroke in Laos has drastically increased, said Dr. Sysavath Keosotsay, a specialist in the field and the neurology department’s director at Mittaphap Hospital, during a run and walk organized to commemorate World Stroke Day 2023.

According to Sysavath, the average number of stroke patients admitted to hospitals has increased to 809 over the past 3-4 years, with an average death rate of 9.01 percent. He estimates the disease to be the third leading cause of death in the country.

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Adding to the difficulties caused by the increasing number of stroke patients in Laos is the fact that there aren’t enough resources available to handle the situation.

Currently, there is only one trained neurologist in Laos, which has to deal with the rise in stroke cases. A lack of education surrounding the early symptoms and signs of strokes and incomplete or insufficient data recording have also played a role in worsening the current situation.

Education on the initial symptoms of stroke is vital, as fast treatment can lessen the brain damage that stroke can cause. According to the Center for Disease Control, stroke treatments work only if the disease is recognized and tackled within three hours of the first symptoms.

Signs that a person is having a stroke are sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially when it is limited to just one side. Sudden confusion, speech and/or sight impairment, and a lack of coordination or balance are also signs of stroke.

To test if a person is having a stroke, first ask the person to smile, and observe if one side of the face droops. Then, ask the person to raise both arms and notice if one arm drifts downward. Following that, ask the person to repeat a simple speech, and listen carefully for slurred words or unusual sounds. Finally, if any of the signs become apparent, it is crucial to call an ambulance immediately.