Over half of UK adults think strokes don’t affect young people – yet stroke is drastically impacting young adults’ lives
Charity / Tue 24th Oct 2023 at 08:53am
OVER half (60%) of the UK population wrongly believe that strokes don’t happen to young adults, according to new research revealed today by the Stroke Association1.
Despite 54% of UK adults knowing someone who has had a stroke, there is still a common public misconception that the condition only affects older people, when in fact one in four strokes happen in people of working age2. The charity has released the data ahead of World Stroke Day (Sunday 29 October), to warn that not only can stroke affect anyone at any age, but that young stroke survivors are missing out on significant milestones in their lives as a result.
The charity also carried out a survey of over 2,800 stroke survivors3, which shockingly, found that a quarter of young stroke survivors aged 18-60 (25%) feel their stroke has robbed them of their future.
Over a third of survivors aged between 18-60 (37%) said that before their stroke, they didn’t think strokes happened to people of their age. While over half of these young stroke survivors (56%) say their stroke has prevented them achieving an important life goal, such as progressing their careers or starting new relationships.
For survivors aged 18-60, the Stroke Association’s survey revealed:
In addition, almost two thirds of those surveyed (62%) said they now feel like a different person since their stroke. The effects of stroke are often devastating, with lives changed in an instant and survivors often left with serious long-term health issues. The research found that a staggering three quarters (78%) of stroke survivors aged 60 and under are struggling with fatigue since their stroke, while almost two thirds (61%) are living with depression or anxiety. More than half of respondents aged 60 and under (58%) now experience one-sided weakness, while almost two thirds (63%) are living with memory problems following their stroke.
Worryingly, a quarter of stroke survivors aged 60 and under (25%) also told the Stroke Association they had initially been diagnosed with another illness or condition, before being diagnosed with a stroke. The charity is warning that younger adults are potentially being misdiagnosed because even health professionals may not suspect a stroke when a younger adult has stroke symptoms.
There are over 100,000 strokes each year and 1.3 million stroke survivors living in the UK today, with these numbers only set to grow. With an increasing number of people surviving stroke and an ageing population, by 2035, the number of stroke survivors living in the UK is expected to rise to over 2 million. The estimated overall cost of stroke in the UK is set to rise from £26 billion in 2015 to £75 billion in 2035, an increase of 194% over 20 years4, presenting increasing societal challenges in future.
The Stroke Association is aiming to raise awareness of the support it provides for stroke survivors of any age across the UK, to help rebuild lives and support stroke survivors to achieve their life goals.
Alexis Kolodziej, Executive Director at the Stroke Association, said: “Our research highlights that people still think stroke is a condition that only affects older people. It’s crucial that we challenge this misconception and make people aware that stroke affects young adults too.
“Stroke simply shouldn’t be a key milestone in a young adult’s life. When planning for the future, no one prepares to have a stroke. Yet one in four strokes happen in people of working age and around 400 children have a stroke in the UK every year.
“After a stroke, life changes in a flash. Two thirds of people who survive a stroke find themselves living with a disability. As a result, young stroke survivors are having important milestones and their planned futures stolen from them, while they have to learn to adapt to their new life affected by stroke.
“At the Stroke Association, we know the value that life after stroke support plays in rebuilding lives. A stroke doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things you want to do. The Stroke Association provides support that covers every aspect of a survivor’s recovery, so you are not just living to survive, but able to live life again.”
If you know a stroke survivor of any age, visit stroke.org.uk/worldstrokeday to find out more about support available and ensure they don’t miss out on important life milestones. To find out if any of our services are available in your area, you can use our search tool or call the Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100.