Stroke is the second leading cause of death on the island, with 600 to 1,000 cases a year, according to the Cyprus stroke association.

In a written announcement marking world stroke day on Friday, the president of the association Marina Charalambous and Dr Andreas Kostis said stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide, but also the leading cause of adult disability in the European Union.

In Cyprus, stroke is also the second leading cause of death, with an estimated incidence of 600 to 1000 strokes per year, of which 30 per cent concern people under 65 years old.

The direct cost of such cases is at around €8.3m per year.

A drug treatment is available since 1995 which can prevent the expansion of ischemic stroke, through intravenous thrombolysis with alteplase, while the removal of the clot which causes blockage of the cerebral vessels is also possible for several years now.

“These treatments are offered in Cyprus, both in public and private hospitals, but without downplaying the immediate need to create specialised stroke units,” the announcement said.

The country also works in the field of prevention as well as rehabilitation after a stroke, with the association highlighting the role of scientific companies, local institution and organised patients’ groups.

However, prevention is “the best treatment” and a good relationship and cooperation with physicians can reduce the possibility of such an episode.

Strokes mainly affects patients with specific risk factors including, smokers, people with heart disease, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and diabetes.

This year’s world stroke day, with a theme “every minute counts” aims to raise awareness of the recognition of a stroke and the fast detection of its possible symptoms as well as the need for urgent transfer of the patient to medical services.

The Cyprus stroke association supports the worldwide campaign FAST, which stands for ‘Face’, Speech’, ‘Arm’ and ‘Time’, where the patient or bystander is prompted to check for a facial droop, speech difficulties and/or unilateral arm weakness and if any of them are present be aware of ‘Time’ being of the essence to act FAST.