Over half (58%) of the Welsh population wrongly believe that strokes don’t happen to young adults, according to new research revealed today by the Stroke Association.
Despite 60% of UK adults knowing someone who has had a stroke, there is still a common public misconception that the condition only affects older people, when in fact one in four strokes happen in people of working age.
The charity has released the data ahead of World Stroke Day (Sunday 29 October), to warn that not only can stroke affect anyone at any age, but that young stroke survivors are missing out on significant milestones in their lives as a result.
The association also carried out a survey of over 2,800 stroke survivors 3 , which shockingly, found that a quarter of young stroke survivors aged 18-60 (25%) feel their stroke has robbed them of their future.
Over a third of survivors aged between 18-60 (37%) said that before their stroke, they didn’t think strokes happened to people of their age. While over half of these young stroke survivors (56%) say their stroke has prevented them achieving an important life goal, such as progressing their careers or starting new relationships.
For survivors aged 18-60, the Stroke Association’s survey revealed:
Over half of stroke survivors (51%) said their stroke had negatively impacted their careers, and stopped them getting a job, being promoted or changing career.
A quarter of stroke survivors (26%) said their stroke had stopped them achieving their dream of going travelling.
Around 16% of stroke survivors said their stroke had stopped them from making new friends.
More than one in ten (11%) said their stroke prevented them from gaining new qualifications.
Almost one in ten (9%) said their stroke has stopped them finding a partner.
In addition, almost two thirds of those surveyed (62%) said they now feel like a different person since their stroke. The effects of stroke are often devastating, with lives changed in an instant and survivors often left with serious long-term health issues.
The research found that a staggering three quarters (78%) of stroke survivors aged 60 and under are struggling with fatigue since their stroke, while almost two thirds (61%) are living with depression or anxiety.
More than half of respondents aged 60 and under (58%) now experience one-sided weakness, while almost two thirds (63%) are living with memory problems following their stroke.
Michael Pursey (pictured above centre) from Port Talbot was a fit and healthy 24 year old special needs teacher and sports coach who’s life changed at 24 years old after a catastrophic stroke.
On January 21 st 2019, Michael was in the classroom when he fell to the ground but had no idea what was going to happen next.
Michael would stay in hospital for six months after losing the ability to walk, talk and even eat – daily life things which any 24-year-old naturally takes for granted.
“My life changed that day forever and I wasn’t given much hope of getting better. I didn’t want to spend my life in a wheelchair so I had to accept the changes,” explained Michael.
My life was going to be what I had planned or hoped for. I found it mentally difficult and was for many months frustrated and angry.”
Now, nearly 30 years old, Michael looks back on the milestones he missed in his twenties.
“To show the effects of stroke on relationships, I had a girlfriend for nearly five years pre-stroke and as a result of the stroke the relationship broke down a year later,” continued Michael.
“I was unable to do any sports coaching and can’t go back to work as a teacher.”
“The life plans I made, have disappeared but now I have new goals. What’s happened has happened, you can’t change the past, can only work hard to make the best future possible.
“I want to help other stroke survivors who are beginning their journey to rebuild their lives and show them that although you do miss out on those normal milestones you can create new ones that you can be just as proud of.”
Michael is now a member of the Stroke advisory group.
“I know to help people you have to be actively involved. Lots of the stroke survivors I meet are older but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen to young people. Everyone needs to be aware that it can and it does happen,” explained Michael.
“For younger people you do feel robbed of the key stages of your life. I basically missed out on my twenties but look at me I’ve reached my goal of driving again and to have that independence back is great. That is a huge milestone for me.
“You can still have and reach milestones, they just may be a little different.”
There are over 100,000 strokes each year and 1.3 million stroke survivors living in the UK today, with these numbers only set to grow. With an increasing number of people surviving stroke and an ageing population, by 2035, the number of stroke survivors living in the UK is expected to rise to over 2 million.
The estimated overall cost of stroke in the UK is set to rise from £26 billion in 2015 to £75 billion in 2035, an increase of 194% over 20 years 4 , presenting increasing societal challenges in future.
The Stroke Association is aiming to raise awareness of the support it provides for stroke survivors of any age across the UK, to help rebuild lives and support stroke survivors to achieve their life goals.
Katie Chappelle, Associate Director, Wales at the Stroke Association, said:
“Our research highlights that people still think stroke is a condition that only affects older
people. It’s crucial that we challenge this misconception and make people aware
that stroke affects young adults too.
“Stroke simply shouldn’t be a key milestone in a young adult’s life. When planning for the future, no one prepares to have a stroke. Yet one in four strokes happen in people of working age and around 400 children have a stroke in the UK every year.
“After a stroke, life changes in a flash. Two thirds of people who survive a stroke find themselves living with a disability. As a result, young stroke survivors are having important milestones and their planned futures stolen from them, while they have to learn to adapt to their new life affected by stroke.
“At the Stroke Association, we know the value that life after stroke support plays in rebuilding lives. A stroke doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things you want to do.
“The Stroke Association provides support that covers every aspect of a survivor’s recovery, so you are not just living to survive, but able to live life again.”
If you know a stroke survivor of any age, visit stroke.org.uk/worldstrokeday to find out more about support available and ensure they don’t miss out on important life milestones.
To find out if any of our services are available in your area, you can use our search tool or call the Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100.
[Lead image: The Stroke Association]
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