SINGAPORE: Early treatment and rehabilitation is important when a disease strikes, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat - who suffered a severe stroke during a Cabinet meeting last year - said on Saturday (May 20).
Speaking at the opening of the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI)'s Brain Awareness carnival, Mr Heng said his recovery was "both a frightening as well as a fascinating experience".
"Frightening because as you read about this, so many things can go wrong but fascinating because the brain is really a very wonderful organ and we are what we are because of our brain," Mr Heng said.
He also urged those present to learn more about the various neurological disorders, such as what they can do to better protect themselves against disease, and how to recover after illness.
"I was at a low-risk for stroke but low risk does not mean no risk," Mr Heng said. "Even when we take precautions and live healthily, disease can still strike. And when we do fall ill, early treatment and early rehabilitation is important."
Stroke is one of the neurological disorders on the rise due to Singapore's aging population. Others include dementia and Parkinson's disease.
However, a lack of awareness could affect health outcomes greatly - such as between making a full recovery and having to deal with a long-term disability, NNI said.
"The public generally views heart attack as a condition that needs to be treated very urgently but when someone starts to experience early stroke symptoms, they are either unaware that these symptoms may be highly suggestive of a stroke. Even if they are quite convinced they are having a stroke, they do not view it as an urgent matter that they need to deal with and present to the emergency department within a short time-frame," said NNI Medical Director Assoc Prof Ng Wai Hoe.
The two-day carnival, held at Our Tampines Hub, is expected to draw about 20,000 visitors. This is the first time the institute is carrying out a public education event of this scale in the heartlands.