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Stroke

True impact of stroke underestimated, new research reveals

The Stroke Association study shows the lack of knowledge of the levels of disability it can cause, or that it is the UK’s fourth biggest killer

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More than half of people in the UK do not know stroke is the fourth biggest killer in Britain, with a fifth of people underestimating its impact, new research has revealed.

A new study from the Stroke Association reveals 51 per cent did not realise how deadly stroke can be, and 18 per cent did not know it is the UK’s fifth biggest cause of disability. 

In fact, two thirds of the 1.3million stroke survivors in the UK find themselves living with a disability, with over 50 per cent dependent on others for every day activities. 

The research also found that people do not understand the true long term damage a stroke can cause:

  • More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of people are unaware that fatigue is a common hidden effect of stroke
  • More than two thirds (67 per cent) don’t realise that stroke can cause depression and anxiety
  • Around a third of people (32 per cent) don’t know that communication difficulties are common after stroke
  • Almost three quarters of people (74 per cent) don’t know that stroke can affect hearing
  • Two thirds (66 per cent) are unaware that stroke survivors can experience vision problems.

Despite the devastating impact of stroke, stroke research remains underfunded and receives far less funding than other health conditions that have similar life-long effects.

For personal trainer Glen Eastick, his stroke happened when he was just 33 and a new father in July 2020, during the pandemic period when hospital visits for stroke decreased significantly.

Glen’s symptoms started while he was preparing his lunch. 

“I briefly lost the use of my arm for about ten seconds and dribbled a bit but then continued making lunch,” said Glen.

“Then when I went into my next online session I realised I couldn’t talk. Nothing was coming out except the odd word. My client was saying ‘Are you ok?’

“My girlfriend Bex was out on a walk with our six-week-old baby Evie and as soon as she came back she realised something was wrong as I was struggling to talk. She called the ambulance and I was rushed into hospital.”

Ironically, the stroke specialty doctor waiting to treat Glen at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, was James Beckett who is also one of his personal fitness clients.

A scan confirmed that Glen had had a stroke and he was thrombolysed – given special drugs to dissolve the clot which was blocking the blood supply and killing cells in his brain.

Thanks to the prompt action by Bex who spotted the “FAST” stroke symptoms, the skills of hospital staff and his own determination, Glen has made a good recovery.

Now Glen is backing the Stroke Association’s call for more research into stroke.

Juliet Bouverie, chief executive of the Stroke Association, said: “Stroke strikes every five minutes in the UK and while it changes lives in an instant, the brain can adapt and rebuild after stroke. 

“That’s why research means everything to our nation’s 1.3 million stroke survivors and their families, because of the life-changing impact it could have on their future.

“Our pioneering research has been at the centre of major breakthroughs that have saved lives and sparked innovation in stroke care and treatment. 

“From laying the foundations for the Act FAST campaign, one of the most successful public health awareness campaigns in England, to funding early research into the emergency stroke treatment thrombectomy, many patients have been spared the most devastating effects of stroke as a result of our research.

“Despite stroke still being the fourth biggest killer in the UK, research has helped to more than halve the rate of deaths from stroke over the last three decades. It’s absolutely crucial that we continue this progress, but we can’t do this without vital funding.”

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