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Incidence of strokes in younger people rising

Published on 01/02/18 at 02:00pm

On the day that a new campaign for greater awareness of stroke symptoms has been released, new figures show that the average age of individuals suffering their first stroke has fallen.

The figures compare statistics from 2007 with 2016 figures, revealing that the average age for men to experience their first stroke has dropped from 71 to 68 and for women from 75 to 73.

In the age bracket 40 to 69, the proportion of strokes suffered rose from 33% to 38%, but the majority of strokes still occur in those over 69 years, at around 59% of all strokes.

The rise in strokes in the younger portion of the population is thought to be related to the levels of obesity shown across the UK.

Smoking is the biggest risk factor for increased risk of suffering a stroke but with smoking rates having fallen, it leaves obesity as the primary driver of this growth in the relevant age group.

According to Public Health England, there are approximately 32,000 stroke-related deaths in England each year. The number of deaths related to strokes, however, has fallen significantly by 49% over the last 15 years.

Analysis of the data also showed that the increase in proportion of first-time strokes in younger adults was due to the rates falling in those aged over 70.

Professor Julia Verne, Public Health England 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.”

The announcement coincides with a campaign, called Act FAST, looking to improve recognition of symptoms of strokes.

As mentioned by Verne, this has been broken down into four snippets of advice:

  • Face - Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms - Can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
  • Speech - Is their speech slurred?
  • Time - Time to call 999

Ben Hargreaves

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