Stroke now impacting younger patients as a result of the obesity epidemic; 4 in 10 are now aged 40-69
07/23/2018 // Ralph Flores // Views

Stroke, a condition that was previously limited to older adults, is now prevalent among middle-aged adults as well. In the U.K., the latest data from Public Health England (PHE) revealed that the incidence of stroke among people ages 40 to 69 years is now at 38 percent. This is up from 33 percent in 2007.

In addition, the average age of a stroke patient fell for both men and women in the past decade. The average age for men is now 68 years (down from 71), and 73 years (from 75) for women.

"Stroke is still one of the leading causes of death in England. While it's often associated with older people, the latest research shows that people are having strokes at a younger age," according to PHE director Julia Verne in an article that appeared in The Independent. "Everyone needs to be aware of the signs."

The data were published as part of PHE's information campaign to raise awareness about the warning signs of stroke, especially for people who fall in the new age range for stroke incidence. The campaign, dubbed as Act FAST, highlights the signs of a stroke and what to do about it, namely:

  • Face -- Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms -- Can they raise both their arms and maintain that position?
  • Speech -- Is their speech slurred (difficult to understand)?
  • Time -- to call 911 in the U.S. or 999 in the U.K.

If a person who is having a stroke does not receive proper treatment in the first few hours, the effects can be disastrous as this can leave the person with a permanent disability or in worse cases, even dead.


According to the report, at least one in six people in the world have had a stroke in their lifetime. In 2016, at least 57,000 people experienced a stroke for the first time. While older adults are more likely to be treated at the onset of a stroke, middle-aged people have a higher risk since they assume that they're too young for the condition.

A stroke — which occurs when a thrombus (blood clot) in the artery obstructs or reduces the blood flow to the brain — is typically caused by high blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight. Today, these factors are already being seen among the middle-aged. (Related: Prevent Stroke by Addressing Sleep Apnea Effectively.)

These risk factors, unfortunately, are also present in overweight and obese people. According to Juliet Bouverie, the chief executive of the Stroke Association, these risk factors are brought about by unhealthy lifestyle choices, a lack of exercise, and poor diets.

"These figures show that strokes can no longer be seen exclusively as a disease of older people. We start to see a difference in the rates of strokes between men and women from as young as 40, with men having the highest rates," she explained. "The simple truth is that we must do more to raise people’s awareness of risk factors and signs of strokes to help prevent them from having a stroke and to limit the damage that stroke can bring."

According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Kingdom is the most obese country in western Europe, with at least 27 percent of the population having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and above — which is the definition of obesity. Moreover, the obesity rates in the country have leapfrogged by 92 percent since the 1990's.

Critics have pinned this on the government's approach of relying on voluntary action by the food and drink industry, as well as its lack of restriction regarding the advertising and marketing of such products.

In response to the criticism, PHE chief nutritionist Dr. Alison Tedstone had said that the government has laid down plans to address this rising epidemic.

"We’re working with industry to make food healthier, we’ve produced guidance for councils on planning healthier towns, and we’re delivering campaigns encouraging people to choose healthier food and lead healthier lives," she continued. "It’s taken many years for us to reach this point and change will not happen overnight."

The U.K. National Health Service notes that obesity is an "increasingly common problem." This is, in part, caused by the consumption of excessive amounts of cheap, high-calorie food coupled with a sedentary lifestyle.

Sources include:

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