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Wednesday, May 27, 1998 Published at 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK

Health: Latest News

Young stroke victims lose out

Even the apparently healthy can suffer a stroke

BBC Health Correspondent Richard Hannaford reports
Figures presented at an international conference in Edinburgh suggest that every year in the UK, more than 1,000 people under the age of 30 suffer a stroke.

The charity, Different Strokes, which campaigns on behalf of young victims, says many people do not receive the help they need because the condition is perceived as a problem of the elderly - about 90% of first-time attacks occur after the retirement age.

Age difference

Dr Charles Edmondson, from the charity, says young stroke victims suffer particular problems:

[ image: Charles Edmondson: more needs to be done]
Charles Edmondson: more needs to be done
"It's not so much the actual physical problems which they have which are different; It's the fact that they are young people who have dependent families and are active - and because all that suddenly goes - they have a whole host of problems which older people don't have."

He said that people should be more aware that strokes can happen to the young, and that the National Health Service and social services should be more prepared to react quickly to help sufferers.

Emotional difficulties

Baz Kelly, 35, suffered a stroke that left him temporarily paralysed down his left-hand side. It curtailed a promising career as an actor and a model. Physiotherapy has enabled him to recover most of his motor skills.

However, he says the mental battle has been just as tough: "People don't realise the emotional side of a stroke, the depression and the isolation. You can feel very alone."

[ image: Stroke sufferer Baz Kelly, aged 35:
Stroke sufferer Baz Kelly, aged 35: "It's like death"
The four-day conference in Edinburgh has brought together some of the world's leading experts on strokes. The disease has become a major drain on health resources, typically consuming 5% of the NHS hospital budget in Scotland.

The conference at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre gives researchers and carers in the field a chance to discuss new developments.

Every year, more than a million people in Europe have an acute stroke. Men are more susceptible than women. The risk rises with age and is increased by high blood pressure and smoking.

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