Stroke Is One Of The Biggest Killers In The UK, According To Stroke Association Study
More than half of people in the North don’t know that stroke is the fourth biggest killer in the UK, according to new research by the Stroke Association. The charity has released the survey findings as it calls for vital support to fund more research into the devastating condition.
A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, killing brain cells. The charity’s latest study asked the general public to rank health conditions in order of the leading causes of death. 51% of people in the North who ranked stroke placed it below its actual position as the fourth biggest killer.
The research also revealed that a fifth of people (20%) in the North underestimate the impact of stroke, believing that stroke ranks lower than its actual position as the fifth leading cause of disability (and death combined) in the UK. In fact, two thirds of people who survive a stroke find themselves living with a disability.
There are 1.3 million stroke survivors living in the UK, with over 50% of all stroke survivors dependent on others for everyday activities. However, the Stroke Association’s survey of people in the North also found that people don’t understand the true long term damage a stroke can cause:
Two-thirds (64%) of people are unaware that fatigue is a common hidden effect of stroke
Two thirds (64%) don’t realise that stroke can cause depression and anxiety
Around a third of people (32%) don’t know that communication difficulties are common after stroke
Almost three quarters of people (73%) don’t know that stroke can affect hearing
Two thirds (66%) are unaware that stroke survivors can experience vision problems
Despite the devastating impact of stroke, stroke research is chronically underfunded and receives far less funding than other health conditions that have similar life-long effects. In the UK far less is spent per survivor on research into stroke than research into any other health condition.
Data shows that annually, only 1.2% of research budgets (approx. £30m) are spent on stroke, compared with 14.8% (approx. £400m) on cancer, while there are 1.3m people living with the effects of stroke in the UK and 2.5m living with cancer. However, the survey reveals many Brits believe more research funding is spent on stroke than other conditions including prostate cancer, dementia and chronic lower respiratory diseases.
The study also found that almost half of people (46%) think that the number of deaths from stroke has increased in the last 10 years. However, despite stroke being the UK’s fourth biggest killer, the rate of deaths has actually decreased by more than half in the last three decades thanks in part to life saving research, demonstrating the crucial need for continued investment in stroke research.
Dr Lauren Hepworth, University of Liverpool said:
“Stroke can affect anyone of any age, from any walk of life, at any time. The effects of stroke vary, from those that are very obvious such as physical disability to those that are harder to see, such as problems with vision and fatigue. Stroke research is vital so that we can prevent strokes from happening but if they do, we know the best treatment and care options to allow people to thrive in their life after stroke.
“I’m carrying out research into vision problems after stroke. Vision problems can affect many aspects of a stroke survivor’s life; putting them at increased risk of falling and affecting their confidence and independence. I’m using a questionnaire and interviewing stroke survivors to better understand how vision problems impact stroke survivors and their families, in everyday life. This research could support the testing of new treatments for stroke survivors with vision problems and to tailor care for individuals. It will also allow healthcare professionals to monitor stroke survivors’ recoveries and to provide appropriate and timely support. My research wouldn’t be possible without the Stroke Association and that’s why it’s so important to continue to fund stroke research, so that we can make sure every stroke survivor has the best possible life after a stroke.”
Juliet Bouverie OBE, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association, said:
“Stroke strikes every five minutes in the UK and while it changes lives in an instant, the brain can adapt and rebuild after stroke. That’s why research means everything to our nation’s 1.3 million stroke survivors and their families, because of the life-changing impact it could have on their future. Our pioneering research has been at the centre of major breakthroughs that have saved lives and sparked innovation in stroke care and treatment. From laying the foundations for the Act FAST campaign, one of the most successful public health awareness campaigns in England, to funding early research into the emergency stroke treatment thrombectomy (the manual removal of stroke-causing blood clots), many patients have been spared the most devastating effects of stroke as a result of our research.
“Despite stroke still being the fourth biggest killer in the UK, research has helped to more than halve the rate of deaths from stroke over the last three decades. It’s absolutely crucial that we continue this progress, but we can’t do this without vital funding. Far less is spent ‘per survivor’ on research into stroke than on research into any other health condition. We would never want to take researchers or money away from other conditions such as cancer, but we do want to replicate the success that cancer research has had, so that we can continue to make breakthroughs in stroke treatment and care.
“Now our focus is on improving life, after stroke strikes. The Stroke Association is the only organisation dedicated to funding research into ongoing rehabilitation for stroke survivors. Our research means everything to stroke survivors and their families. It gives hope for a better recovery, living more independently, a future. We’re calling on people to donate where they can to support our research and help give stroke survivors and their families the progress they deserve.”
Donate to help fund the research that could mean everything to stroke survivors and their loved ones. Funds raised will go towards vital services for stroke survivors across the UK, including support and pioneering research. Visit www.stroke.org.uk/supportresearch