Understanding the rise in strokes

Content provided by Hannah Walters

The likelihood of experiencing a stroke during our lifetime has increased by 50% over the last 17 years. Alarmingly, there’s many studies which show this increase to be among younger adults, particularly those of working age. The Medical Research Foundation has found an increase of 67% in those aged 50 or younger, with the majority working in high-skilled or managerial jobs.

At Dudley Stroke Association, we offer valuable information and resources, to enable change and informed decision-making. We provide support to everyone affected by stroke, including family and carers. 

As strokes continue to be a major concern for people, we want to bring awareness to this increase. Preventative measures can be taken from an early age and potentially decrease the chances.


Lifestyle factors that can contribute to stroke

While the exact cause of a stroke remains unknown, medical experts suggest that certain lifestyle factors could be increasing the risk. These include:


·       Physical inactivity

·       Obesity

·       High blood pressure

·       Diabetes

·       High cholesterol

·       Alcohol and drug use

·       Smoking

·       Increased stress

·       Vaping 

Note – other factors like family history, genetics and health conditions like APS, and atrial fibrillation may be beyond our control. But by modifying and controlling the above, you can significantly lower the overall risk.


Is your job increasing your risk of stroke?

Dealing with work stress can cause many problems in our lives. The American Academy of Neurology revealed that those with high-stress jobs had a 22% higher risk of stroke. This risk was even higher in women at 33%.


Though this study shows an increased risk, there’s no indication of ‘how’. Some scientists have said that it’s down to factors that go along with stress. Eating poorly and not exercising, plus the increase in stress hormones, and inflammation can lead to unstable or high blood pressure.


Note: hormonal contraceptives can make stroke risk higher in women who suffer from migraines, this could potentially be part of the reason for an increased risk for females.


Insomnia increases risk in those under 50’s

Recent news reports highlighted a study by scientists in the US. Participants who were under the age of 50 that experienced 5-8 symptoms of insomnia, had nearly four times the risk of having a stroke.


This signifies the importance of identifying and treating insomnia in younger adults to reduce this risk. Measures include cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation techniques or medication as a last resort.


If you’re concerned or you’d like further info, contact your GP.


Changing our way of thinking

As strokes are on the rise, particularly in working-age adults, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate our understanding. We need to take a more proactive approach by addressing these and focusing on implementing changes earlier in life to reduce our risk.


By modifying or controlling the risk factors earlier. We can significantly reduce the likelihood of experiencing one.


Increase Physical Activity – Regular exercise improves overall cardiovascular health and helps to maintain a healthy weight. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise over 5 days per week. Incorporating activities like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming into your daily routine can help reduce your risk and improve overall wellbeing.


Improved nutrition – Consuming a well-balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can help to reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. Try and limit the number of processed foods, sugar, and foods with excessive salt you consume. This will lower the amount of cholesterol and saturated fats you intake.


Decreasing stress levels – Chronic stress can have a detrimental impact on your cardiovascular health. Practise self-care, meditation, and deep breathing exercises. If you’re struggling with managing your stress levels at work, speak to your employer. Many organisations offer employee assistance programs for exactly this.



 The rise in strokes among adults of all ages is a concerning trend that demands attention. By understanding risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure, we can take proactive steps earlier in life to reduce this. It’s also paramount to recognise any family history, genetics or other health conditions that may be beyond our control. By modifying and controlling our lifestyle factors, we can significantly lower the risk.


At Dudley Stroke Association, we’re commuted to empowering these changes to help people better understand strokes.


If you’re worried about your stroke risk, reach out to your GP. They’ll be able to give you guidance and support. Together, we can work towards changing the way we think about strokes. By being proactive and taking protective measures earlier in life, we can prevent them from happening.