Dave Wilson and dog
Stroker survivor Dave Wilson turned to a four-legged friend to help him make lifestyle changes after his stroke.

UK adults could take steps to avoid having a stroke if more people knew the top risk factors for stroke and made one small change to their lifestyle, according to a leading stroke charity.

The Stroke Association is launching a national campaign inspiring people to pledge to make one small change to reduce their risk of stroke and stop stroke being the fourth biggest cause of death in the UK.

New survey results by the Stroke Association found that only one in 20 (6 per cent) UK adults think they’re at high risk of stroke. This is despite the fact that, in the UK, more than one in every five (21 per cent) adults will have a stroke in their lifetime.

The new research commissioned by the charity shows this may be because people don’t know what puts them at risk. 47 per cent of the country don’t know that high blood pressure is a top risk factor for stroke.

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Blood pressure is one of the biggest causes for stroke and 55 per cent of stroke patients have hypertension (high blood pressure) when they have their stroke. According to the charity, this figure is concerning as many as one in six adults have high blood pressure, but only 14 per cent of people would focus on their blood pressure to reduce their stroke risk.

The charity’s research revealed that nine in 10 strokes are associated with modifiable risk factors, elements of someone’s lifestyle that can be changed to reduce their risk.

According to the Interstroke study, the world’s largest study of stroke causes, the modifiable risk factors that cause the most strokes in countries such as the UK are high blood pressure, high body weight and poor diet.

The study found that knowledge of the top risk factors for stroke was low across the board. 71 percent did not know that weight was a top risk factor that can increase the risk of stroke and 87 percent did not know that diet was a top risk factor for stroke

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive at the Stroke Association says that when people don’t know their risk, there’s no motivation to reduce it.

“Most people know that living a smoke free life, drinking carefully and eating healthily is good for you, but it’s clear from our research that people aren’t always sure why these are important things to do.

“The biggest thing you can do reduce your risk of stroke is to start by making one small change. We want to help as many people as possible to understand the personal risk of stroke and make that first, positive step to prevent having one. It can happen to anyone, at any age and at any time, but we know that people who take steps to reduce their risk are less likely to have a stroke.”

The survey results found a lack of understanding of the risk factors that increase risk of stroke and a shocking lack of information being accessed to help people reduce their risk.

Three in four people said that they have had no information about stroke reduction recently. This rockets to over four in five of over-65s, who are most at risk of having a stroke.

The charity’s campaign follows recent news that over 35,000 stroke survivors had a stroke during the pandemic and still needed to receive more support.

The Stroke Association is calling for immediate actions from governments and local health systems across the UK to stem a ‘rising tide’ of demand on the NHS and UK health services that could ‘take years to solve’ if left unchecked.

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