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Stroke rates rocket in younger men and women

No longer a disease of old people, as strokes soar by nearly a third in 40-54-year-old women

Louise Prime

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Rates of stroke are soaring among working-age men and women with an increase of a quarter over the past 15 years alone, the Stroke Association warned this morning. The charity called for more to be done to raise people’s awareness of the risk factors for stroke so that they can reduce their chances of suffering one, and for signs and symptoms of stroke, as well as for employers to do more to allow those who have suffered a stroke to return to work.

The Stroke Association said that increasingly unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles, as well as changes in hospital admission practice, are behind the huge rise in the rate of stroke revealed by its own analysis of hospital admissions data requested from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Overall, the annual number of hospital admissions for stroke among people of working age (20-64 years) rose by a quarter between 2000 and 2014, but the figures were much worse than this among certain groups. In men aged 40-54 years, the annual number of admissions for stroke rose by 46% between 2000 and 2014, from 4260 to 6221; among women of the same age it soared by almost a third (30%) over the same period, from 3529 to 4604.

Stroke Association chief executive Jon Barrick said: “These figures show that stroke can no longer be seen as a disease of older people. There is an alarming increase in the numbers of people having a stroke in working age. This comes at a huge cost, not only to the individual, but also to their families and to health and social care services.

“The simple truth is that we must do more to raise people’s awareness of risk factors, to help prevent them from having a stroke. With many more stroke patients now receiving emergency medical treatment, we also need the right health and social care services available. People must have the support they need to make the best possible recovery and avoid having to cope for decades with the disabilities that stroke can bring.”

The Stroke Association called for more to be done to address the heavy financial impact of stroke on people’s lives. Further research recently conducted on its behalf for Action on Stroke Month has revealed that they can face opposition from employers concerned about their ability to resume work – more than two-fifths (42%) of 500 senior managers in small- and medium-sized businesses said they would be concerned about an employee’s ability to carry out their role after a stroke, and only half had heard of the Government’s Access to Work Scheme. The charity is also concerned by the benefits system failure to recognise the full impact of stroke.

Jon Barrick said: “Having a stroke is bad enough, but being written off by your employer through a lack of understanding can be catastrophic. Businesses play a crucial role in helping stroke survivors get back into the workplace and on the road to recovery. That’s why we’re calling on employers to be aware of the physical and emotional impact of stroke.”

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