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Growing number of strokes in middle-aged people

Age of first time strokes has fallen in past decade

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 01 February 2018

The number of people having a stroke in middle age is rising, while first time strokes are happening at younger ages, according to Public Health England (PHE).

PHE has today released new statistics showing that while the majority (59%) of strokes occur in the older generation, more than a third (38%) of first time strokes happened in middle-aged adults (between the ages of 40 to 69) in 2016, which rose from 33% in 2007.

In England, around a sixth of people will have a stroke in their lifetime and 57,000 people had their first-time stroke in 2016. It is estimated that around 30% of people who have a stroke will go on to experience another one.

Stroke is the third most common cause of premature death, and a leading cause of disability in the UK, with around 32,000 stroke-related deaths in England each year, although deaths related to stroke have declined by 49% in the past 15 years due to a combination of better prevention, earlier treatment and more advanced treatment.

PHE is today relaunching its Act FAST campaign urging people to call 999 if they notice even one of the signs of a stroke in themselves or in others.

The FAST (face, arms, speech, time) acronym has featured in the advertising for a number of years and the new campaign will run nationally from today including advertising on TV, press, radio, bus interior posters and digital, supporting PR and social media.

The new PHE statistics covering 2007 to 2016 showed that more first-time strokes are now occurring at an earlier age. The average age for males having a stroke fell from 71 to 68 years and for females, 75 to 73 years between 2007 and 2016.

Getting treatment as quickly as possible to prevent the stroke doing more damage was essential, said PHE, which highlighted charity The Stroke Association’s latest State of the Nation: stroke statistics report. This showed that in the UK, almost two thirds (65%) of stroke survivors leave hospital with a disability.

Professor Julia Verne, PHE director, said: “Stroke is still one of the leading causes of death in England. While it’s often associated with older people, the latest research shows that people are having strokes at a younger age. Everyone needs to be aware of the signs.

“Calling 999 as soon as you see even one of the symptoms develop – in the face, arms and speech – is essential. Speedy treatment will help prevent deaths and disability.”

Tony Rudd, national clinical director for stroke with NHS England and stroke physician at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, said: “Thanks to improved NHS care, stroke survival is now at record high levels. Urgent treatment for strokes is essential, so friends and family can play a key part in making sure their loved ones receive care as quickly as possible.”

Steve Brine, public health and primary care minister, said: “Strokes still claim thousands of lives each year, so the message of this Act FAST campaign remains as relevant as ever.
“The faster you act, the greater the chance of a good recovery. That’s why I’m urging everybody, and we must remember stroke can hit at any age, to familiarise themselves with the signs of a stroke and be ready to act fast.”

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