Charity warns of an ‘unsustainable’ explosion in strokes over next decade

Stroke risk

Concerns have been raised about the potential number of people in the UK who are at risk of experiencing a stroke, with figures set to increase by more than 50% by 2035. The impact on the NHS and the economy regarding healthcare costs and lost productivity is predicted to be £75bn a year.

This stark prognosis from the Stroke Association is based on trends of worsening physical health, rising obesity levels, and an ageing population. They warn that the impact on our healthcare system and the country’s financial well-being would be ‘unsustainable’ in a decade.

May is Action on Stroke Month, which aims to raise awareness of stroke in terms of prevention and management.

The Stroke Association is calling on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to publish a funded stroke prevention plan to support people of all ages to reduce their risk of stroke. A DHSC spokesperson commented: “We’re committed to improving stroke prevention, treatment, and recovery for all. We are also taking action to encourage better lifestyle choices, including creating a smoke-free generation and reducing salt intake through food to help prevent the risk of strokes.”

5 steps to prevent stroke

Public Health England estimates about 80% of strokes in people under 75 could be prevented. Age is a factor, as does a family history of stroke. You can’t reverse the years or escape your genes, but there are positive steps you can take to reduce your risk of stroke.

  1. Lower blood pressure

High blood pressure remains the most significant stroke risk factor, so monitoring and treating hypertension is one of the most important changes you can make. Steps you can take include reducing salt in your diet and exercising more.

  1. Lose weight

Obesity greatly raises your odds of having a stroke. Exercise contributes to weight loss and helps you manage complications such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

  1. Eat a healthy diet

Nutrition goes beyond just weight loss; some diets have been shown to decrease the risk of stroke. The Mediterranean diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts while cutting back on foods high in saturated fats and trans fats, which helps to lower cholesterol.

  1. Quit smoking

Smoking raises your stroke risk in several and quitting is one of the most powerful lifestyle changes you can make to reduce this risk. It is important to remember that most smokers require several goes at quitting – see each attempt as bringing you closer to success.

  1. Reduce alcohol consumption

Even more than two drinks per day increases your stroke risk significantly so drink in moderation. If you do want a tipple, reach for the red wine, as recent research that analysed health data from 32 different countries found evidence that drinking red wine in moderate amounts could be associated with a reduced risk of having a stroke.

For more advice and support on making these important lifestyle changes, get in touch to arrange a private GP appointment with one of our team. Call +44 (0)20 4580 1152.