The number of stroke victims in the UK will soar by 59 per cent in the next 20 years, new research suggests, prompting experts to warn action must be taken to prevent the country from “sleepwalking a stroke crisis”.
High blood pressure and the fact people are living longer are both factors fuelling the rise, which could increase the number of stroke victims by two million, according to a study by the Stroke Association.
First-time strokes among people aged 45 and over in the UK will rise from 117,600 in 2015 to 148,700 in 2025 and 187,000 in 2035 – a 59 per cent rise over 20 years, with the main rise expected to be among people aged 85 and over.
At the same time, more people aged 45 and over will survive a stroke, with the figure rising from 950,000 in 2015 to 2,120,000 in 2035 – a 123 per cent rise over 20 years.
Around a third of these sufferers will be left disabled, with 700,000 of these will be left with long-term disabilities, according to the findings.
The report also found the yearly cost of stroke to the NHS will also treble, from £3.4bn in 2015 to £10.2bn in 2035.
The Stroke Association is now calling for a £10m investment into research to prevent strokes, saying it could save 114,000 people from having a stroke by 2035.
Dominic Brand, director of external affairs at the charity, said stroke prevention was in “desperate” need of investment in order to prevent the UK from falling into what he termed a “stroke crisis”.
“It’s clear that we need to act now to prevent the UK from sleepwalking towards a stroke crisis.The fact is that most strokes are preventable but there’s still a lot we don’t know. This report highlights some of the key areas that desperately need investment,” he said.
“Stroke causes a greater range of disabilities than any other condition, but research into stroke remains under-funded.
“We urgently need to find effective ways to prevent the devastation that haemorrhagic stroke can bring, as well preventing and managing conditions with a higher risk of stroke, such as AF and high blood pressure.”
The Stroke Association estimates that there are currently over 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK, with someone experiencing a stroke every five minutes.
Around 835,000 people are known to have an irregular heartbeat – known as AF – which can increase a person’s risk of stroke five-fold, but many patients are said to be on a treatment that is not effectively lowering their stroke risk, and hundreds of thousands of people are thought to be living with the condition undiagnosed.
The report states that around eight million people have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, which is the biggest controllable risk factor for stroke.
Yet four in ten people are not receiving appropriate treatment to manage their blood pressure, and it is thought that around five million people are unaware that they have the condition in England alone.
The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.