The number of working-age people suffering strokes is going up, and it's largely the result of our unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles.
Research by the Stroke Association charity shows how in England last year, 6,221 men aged 40-54 were admitted to hospital for the condition, which was 1,961 more than in 2000. For women falling into the same age bracket, the rise during the period was 1,075.
The results are surprising because the disease is more commonly associated with older people, and although the growing population size will have pushed the number up, the experts believe inactive lifestyles, higher incidence of diabetes and unhealthy diets all played a big role.
Why? Because all of them increase the risk of a dangerous blood clots forming, and these are responsible for strokes. In fact, research published last year by McKinsey showed that 2.1bn people fall into the “overweight” category globally, which amounts to 31 per cent of the world's population. That's nearly twice the number who are undernourished.
And the situation is only set to get worse – the same report predicted that almost half the world will be overweight or obese by 2030 if we allow our self-indulgence to continue along its current trajectory.
Damaging lives and the economy
The effects of a stroke, which include the brain not functioning properly and an inability to move or feel one side of the body, can last for the rest of a person's life. Even if the stroke does not have such debilitating consequences, it can still make it very difficult for people to return to work afterwards.
The Stroke Association said this rise was “alarming” and said it was a “sad indictment” of the country's health. It also warned of an increasing cost to the economy, which is currently £9bn each year.