In Brief

'Shocking' rise in number of young stroke victims

The increase is linked to unhealthy lifestyles and is 'a sad indictment of the nation's health', says charity

The number of working age people suffering from strokes has soared in recent years, a leading charity has warned.

The number of men aged 40-54 hospitalised for a stroke increased by almost 50 per cent between 2000 and 2014, while the rate among women in that age group rose by 30 per cent.

The majority of strokes occur in people aged over 65, but the latest figures revel that younger generations are increasingly at risk due to a variety  of unhealthy lifestyle choices. Smoking, being overweight, a lack of exercise and poor diet can all lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke. 

The life-threatening condition occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, either by a blood clot or when a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts. It can lead to brain damage, permanent disability and death.  

"These figures show strokes can no longer be seen as a disease of older people," said John Barrick from the Stroke Association. "This comes at a huge cost, not only to the individual, but also to their families and to health and social care services," he told the BBC.

Soaring obesity levels are putting thousands at risk of stroke, and the "shocking" stroke rates are "a sad indictment of the current state of the UK's health," Barrick told The Guardian. "There are now real concerns that excess weight could replace smoking as the major killer of adults in the near future.”

The charity urged people to be aware of the risk factors and regularly check their blood pressure. Simple lifestyle changes including eating healthily, exercising regularly and avoiding alcohol and tobacco can dramatically reduce the risk of illness.

It encouraged businesses to do more to help sufferers return to work. "Having a stroke is bad enough, but being written off by your employer through a lack of understanding can be catastrophic," said Barrick.

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