A stroke can be life-threatening. It is a serious condition in which the blood supply to a part of the brain is shut off, and urgent medical attention is essential.

By recognizing the signs of a stroke, and ensuring treatment is received as quickly as possible, you can reduce the likelihood of permanent damage and save a life. If you think someone is having a stroke, you need to act FAST.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is designated by the Department of Health as the official Stroke Center for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. We provide access to rapid emergency treatment, evaluation, stabilization, and post-stroke rehabilitation programs.

What is a stroke?​

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly interrupted, either by an artery blockage or a burst blood vessel. Strokes are the leading cause of disability in the UAE, and the third leading cause of death. But immediate emergency medical treatment can limit the damage caused by a stroke and ultimately save a person’s life.

What cause​s a stroke?

In the UAE, the average age of a stroke patient is 45. This is up to 20 years younger than the global average. The early onset is believed to be caused by the high prevalence of modifiable risk factors (things we can change) in UAE adults, such as obesity, smoking, and diabetes. Hypertension (high blood pressure) has been identified as one of the major risk factors for stroke. It is estimated that 25% of all adults in the UAE are living with hypertension, putting our population at high risk.​

The two main causes of stroke are:

  • Ischaemic: the most common type of stroke, where a blot clot blocks blood flow
  • Hemorrhagic: the most serious type, where a blood vessel in the brain bursts and causes a bleed on the brain.

Another condition, referred to as a ‘mini-stroke’ or transient ischemic attack (TIA) can occur, where the blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted, anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours. A TIA won’t cause permanent damage to the brain, however, it should always be treated immediately and considered as a warning sign of a possible full stroke in the future.

Regardless of the type, it is crucial to recognize that any stroke is a serious medical condition that should be treated as a medical emergency. If you suspect that you, or someone else is experiencing a stroke, call 999 immediately.

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

The main warning signs of a stroke can be easily remembered by the words B.E. F.A.S.T:

  • Balance: Is the person experiencing a sudden loss of balance or coordination?​
  • Eyes: Is the person having difficulty focusing or are they experiencing double vision? Can they see clearly?
  • Face: Is the person able to smile fully? Is their face drooping on one side?
  • Arms: Can the person raise both arms or does one arm drop?
  • Speech: Is the person able to speak? Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: Time is of the essence. Call 999 immediately if you see any of these signs.

Life afte​r a stroke

Recovery from a stroke is different for every patient. Many people recover completely, while others are left with physical limitations, such as difficulty walking, speech problems, and the ability to perform daily activities. Rehabilitation after a stroke can help overcome these limitations. Our physical, occupational, and speech therapists are all trained to help stroke patients get back as much independence as possible. By building strength, mobility and confidence, the team help patients to live their lives to the fullest. Read more about life after a stroke here.

Stroke Risk Calculator


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