Campaigners warn over surge in strokes in working age people

Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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NUMBERS OF strokes in middle-aged men in Yorkshire have rocketed by more than a fifth in eight years, campaigners warn today.

The Stroke Association said numbers of hospital admissions for strokes among men aged 40 to 54 increased to 600 in 2014.

It also found numbers of strokes among working age women aged 20 to 64 increased by 15 per cent to 400 over the period from 2006.

The surge is being blamed on growing sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles.

The charity’s regional head of operations, Julia MacLeod, said it was an “alarming increase”.

“These figures show that stroke can no longer be seen as a disease of older people,” she said.

“This comes at a huge cost, not only to the individual, but also to their families and to health and social care services.

“The simple truth is that we must do more to raise people’s awareness of risk factors, to help prevent them from having a stroke.

“People must have the support they need to make the best possible recovery and avoid having to cope for decades with the disabilities that stroke can bring.”

Q&A: What happens during a stroke?

The charity said employers are not doing enough to help workers who have suffered a stroke, as it warns the rise in working age stroke means more people will be forced to live with the heavy financial impact of the condition.

Stroke survivors unable to return to work can struggle to cope with a fall in income and increased household bills.

Commercial litigation lawyer Alastair Morley, 37, of Leeds, suffered a stroke on New Year’s Day 2012.

“As a young, fit man, I never thought, in a million years, that someone my age could have a stroke,” he said.“How wrong I was.”

Tests showed it was caused by a hole in his heart undiagnosed since birth. He spent a month on a stroke unit where he received round-the-clock care. Following surgery, he returned home.

He said: “One of the hardest things for me was dealing with the constant tiredness. My mind was working all the time as I was constantly thinking of the words I wanted I wanted to say, but I was struggling to get them out.”

His thoughts returned to going back to his high-pressure role and he began a phased return, thanks to support from his employer. He has not taken a day off sick since.

“Getting back to normal and re-establishing a routine and a rhythm to your life after a stroke is important,” he said.

“But it’s so easy to focus on what you can’t do after a stroke.

“I had support to help me get back to work after my stroke. But not everyone is so fortunate.

“It’s really important for employers to know what they can do to break down the barriers that prevent some stroke survivors from returning to the workplace.”

Stephen House, 50, of Sheffield, was also supported to return to work by his employer Royal Mail after a stroke in August 2012. He was working night shifts but the stroke affected his mobility in the left of his body and his vision in both eyes, leaving him unable to work for a year.

He returned to work, again on a phased basis, and is now full time but is working days and no longer operating machinery or sorting post.

He said: “After my stroke I found it hard at first as I’d been so used to doing everything and I felt guilty that I could no longer do it all.

“But, during my recovery I was told I need to look after myself and they were right. A huge difference for me now is how tired I get after my shifts.”