There has been an “alarming” rise in the number of working-age men and women having strokes, a charity has warned. In England in 2014 there were 6,221 hospital admissions for men aged 40-54 – a rise of 1,961 on 14 years earlier, a Stroke Association study shows.

Experts said unhealthy lifestyles were partly to blame for the rise, though the growing population and changes to hospital practice also played a part. Strokes should no longer be seen as a disease of older people, they said.

Huge costs

Strokes are caused by blood clots or bleeds to the brain and can lead to long-lasting disability.  The majority occur in people aged over 65, but this report suggests growing numbers of younger people are at risk. Experts analysed national hospital admission data spanning 2000 to 2014. These findings highlight the importance of ensuring your blood pressure and cholesterol are under control, as well as having a health check at the age of 40Dr Mike Knapton, British Heart Foundation  Trends for people in their 40s and early 50s appeared to be getting worse.

In women aged 40-54, there were an extra 1,075 strokes recorded in 2014, compared with 2000. Experts said growing obesity levels, sedentary lives and unhealthy diets – which raise the risks of dangerous blood clots – all played a part. And they argued strokes among this age group had long-lasting personal and financial impacts on individuals and their families, as well as on the economy.

Recovering patients can find it difficult to return to work and should have more support from employers, the report suggests. Jon Barrick, of the Stroke Association, said: “These figures show 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.”

Dr Mike Knapton, at the British Heart Foundation charity, said the increase in stroke rates among younger men and women was worrying and needed to be taken seriously.  “These findings also highlight the importance of ensuring your blood pressure and cholesterol are under control, as well as having a health check at the age of 40,” he said. “Although there is an increase in sedentary activity and obesity levels now, it is only part of this complex picture.”

Figures also rose sharply in people over 90 years of age, partly as a result of individuals living longer, experts said. Another reason that may contribute to the overall trend is the increasing public awareness of the symptoms of strokes.

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