YOUNGER people are increasingly suffering strokes because of their unhealthy lifestyle, research has found.
The average of someone suffering a stroke has fallen from 71 years in 1993/4 to 69 years in 2005 and study published in the journal Neurology found.
It was also found that 13 per cent of strokes occurred in people aged under 55 in 1993/4 which increased to 19 per cent in 2005.
Study author Dr Brett Kissela, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, said: "The reasons for this trend could be a rise in risk factors such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.
"Other factors, such as improved diagnosis through the increased use of MRI imaging may also be contributing.
"Regardless, the rising trend found in our study is of great concern for public health because strokes in younger people translate to greater lifetime disability."
The study looked at people aged between 20 and 54 in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area of America during three separate, one year-long periods between July of 1993 and June of 1994, and the calendar years of 1999 and 2005.
Dr Kissela said: "The good news is that some of the possible contributing factors to these strokes can be modified with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise.
"However, given the increase in stroke among those younger than 55, younger adults should see a doctor regularly to monitor their overall health and risk for stroke and heart disease."
A spokesman for the Stroke Association said: "Although this research was carried out in the US, western cultures lead very similar lifestyles and in other research parallels have often been drawn between the US and the UK.
"For these reasons it’s likely that the UK could face similar outcomes. However, a UK specific study hasn’t been carried out yet."
Every year around 152,000 people suffer a stroke in Britain and a third are known to occur in people under the age of 65 including 400 in children.
Dr Clare Walton, Research Communications Officer at the Stroke Association said: “This research is alarming. With the number of younger people having strokes increasing, greater strain will be placed on health services to support them with their recovery.
"This is particularly worrying given the proposed cuts to the NHS and social care which could seriously impact on patients’ life after stroke. A stroke happens in an instant but its effects can last a lifetime, leaving many with long-term severe disabilities.
“This problem needs to be addressed now. In many cases a stroke can be prevented and everyone can reduce their risk by making a few simple healthy lifestyle changes.
"For example, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting your blood pressure checked can all make a huge difference.”
Rebecca Smith Telegraph.co.uk