Middle-aged are ignoring risk factors for stroke
The proportion of strokes among people of working age in Ireland has soared by over a quarter in the last seven years, according to worrying new figures revealed yesterday.
Middle-aged men in particular appear not to be heeding advice on stroke prevention, an Irish Heart Foundation conference has heard.
The figures show an increase of more than 26pc in strokes among under 65s - the equivalent of over 300 extra strokes among people of working age in Ireland every year.
Dr Paul McElwaine, Stroke Research Fellow with the HSE National Stroke programme ,which led the audit research,said: "While the reasons behind this increase have not yet been fully established and may be complex, it is clear that preventable risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure are significant contributors."
Experts warned there is an urgent need for more investment in prevention programmes, along with care services to cater for younger stroke survivors.
A stroke is a serious, medical condition when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Urgent treatment is essential to minimise brain damage.
While more women in Ireland die from stroke across all age groups, the figures show that younger men suffer almost three-quarters of strokes across.
Four in 10 of younger stroke sufferers are smokers - more than twice the national smoking rate. And the rate of people already diagnosed with high blood pressure who suffered a stroke was "also worryingly high".
Dr McElwaine said it appears that while people in older age groups are acting on advice to minimise their risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, generally, middle aged men are not.
Stroke is no longer classed as a disease of older people
"People of working age are now accounting for one in four of all strokes and the rate is growing rapidly in spite of Ireland's ageing population.
"More are surviving stroke and returning home but there is a need to develop community health and social care services for younger sufferers who may have to cope for decades with the disabilities caused by stroke," he added.
Meanwhile, a new global study of adults with diabetes shows Ireland is among the countries which has seen a big rise in diabetes in men and women since 1980. It went up from 3.3pc to 5.1pc in women and from 4.3pc to 7.3pc in men.
It comes in the wake of last week's obesity report warning Irish people are on course to become the fattest in Europe.