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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 01:06 GMT 02:06 UK
UK 'underestimating stroke risk'
Brain scan
Strokes are caused by bleeds or clots in the brain
The risk of having a stroke is greatly underestimated by most people in the UK, a survey has suggested.

A Stroke Association poll of almost 2,000 adults found one out of every five thought they were more likely to be mugged, and only 6% feared a stroke.

In fact, muggings happen every 13 minutes on average, but every year 130,000 people in the UK have a stroke - an average of one every four minutes.

Up to 40% of strokes could be prevented by lifestyle changes, the group says.

Spokesman Joe Korner said strokes were the UK's "third biggest killer", after heart disease and cancer, and the main cause of severe disability - with 250,000 people affected at any one time.

Every year, 60,000 people in the UK die from a stroke - 13% of all deaths among women and 8% among men, according to the association.

Much more must be done to educate the general public about how to reduce their risk of stroke, especially by having their blood pressure checked regularly
Stroke Association spokesman Joe Korner

It says stroke patients occupy one in four long-term hospital beds and one in five acute ones, costing the NHS more than 2.3bn every year.

And only one out of every three stroke patients make full recoveries.

"Much more must be done to educate the general public about how to reduce their risk of stroke, especially by having their blood pressure checked regularly," Mr Korner added.

High blood pressure means you are seven times more likely to have a stroke - but only two out of every five people are even aware high blood pressure is a major risk factor, according to the association.

It says one out of every two people aged above 65 has high blood pressure - but only 18% of those asked thought they were at risk.
People are unaware that making even small changes to their lifestyle... can have a dramatic impact on their risk of having a stroke
Dr Brian Crichton

Binge drinking - eight or more units of alcohol for men or six or more for women at least one day a week - makes you five times more likely to have a stroke.

Smoking doubles the risk, according to the association.

Solihull GP Dr Brian Crichton said: "People are unaware that making even small changes to their lifestyle such as controlling high blood pressure, cutting down on alcohol intake and stopping smoking can have a dramatic impact on their risk of having a stroke."

A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to the brain that causes brain cells to die.




SEE ALSO:
Therapy hope for stroke victims
20 Jan 05 |  Health


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