Research shows stroke risk is on the rise in younger people. Here’s how to act FAST to prevent deaths and disability.
Medically reviewed by Dr Juliet McGrattan (MBChB) and words by Jenny L. Cook
Would you be able to tell if you or someone close to you was suffering from a stroke? A serious and life-threatening medical condition, a stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off – but if you act fast you, the less damage is likely to happen.
We speak to the experts about how to identify the most common stroke symptoms to improve chances of a full recovery.
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is restricted or cut off. This can affect speech, as well as the way you think and move, so if you notice the signs of a stroke it’s important to act fast.
While the majority (59 per cent) of strokes happen to people aged 70 and over, figures from Public Health England (PHE) show an increasing number of younger people are at risk. The average age for men having a stroke in 2016 fell from 71 to 68 and for women it fell from 75 to 73, with 38 per cent of first-time incidents now occurring in people aged between 40 and 69-years-old.
It is estimated that one in six people in England will have a stroke in their lifetime.
‘Stroke is still one of the leading causes of death in England. But while it’s often associated with older people, the latest research shows that people are having strokes at a younger age,’ warns Professor Julia Verne, PHE Director.
‘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.’
How to tell if someone is having a stroke
In response to these findings, PHE launched it’s national Act F.A.S.T stroke campaign, which aims to remind people of all ages be aware of the symptoms of a stroke. These include:
Has their face fallen to one side? Can they smile?
Can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
Is their speech slurred?
Time to call 999.
It is estimated that one in six people in England will have a stroke in their lifetime, and the latest statistics show that 57,000 people had their first stroke in 2016. If you have already experienced a stroke, there is a 30 per cent chance that you will experience another one.
What are the chances of stroke survival?
The good news is, 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,’ says Tony Rudd, National Clinical Director for Stroke with NHS England and stroke physician at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
‘Every minute counts and knowing when to call 999 – if you see any one of the signs of stroke – will make a significant difference to someone’s recovery and rehabilitation.’
Around 1.9 million nerve cells in the brain are lost every minute that a stroke is left untreated, so acting F.A.S.T really is key to a full recovery. If untreated, a stroke can result in permanent disability or even death.