Stroke is said to be the major neurological disease of our times. It is currently the third most common cause of death in developed countries, exceeded only by coronary heart disease and cancer. In the UK, stroke patients occupy around 20 per cent of all acute hospital beds and 25 per cent of long term beds.

Worldwide, 3 million women and 2.5 million men die from stroke every year- however; men are 25% more likely to suffer strokes than women.

The Prevalence of stroke is approximately 1.5/1000 which rises with age to 10/1000 at the age of 75.

Graph One highlights the numbers of Australian people experiencing a stroke between 2004-2005. The data has been retrieved from the 2006 survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers. As you can see, more males than females had experienced a stroke (178,334 versus 168,334) and males were more likely to have a stroke at a younger age (60-74) than females.

 Graph One: Number of persons experiencing stroke, Australia, 2003

Stroke has a greater disability impact than any other chronic disease. Over 300,000 people are living with moderate to severe disabilities as a result of stroke. The direct cost of stroke to the NHS is estimated to be £2.8 billion. The cost to the wider economy is £1.8 billion and, the informal care cost is £2.4 billion.

Those of Afro-Caribbean origin are at increased risk of having a stroke, and the number of people affected by the condition is higher among this ethnic group than any other. This is because people of Afro-Caribbean origin have a genetic predisposition to developing diabetes and heart disease, which are two conditions that can increase the risk of strokes.

Ischaemic strokes are more common, accounting for 80% – 85% of strokes.

Haemorrhagic strokes account for approximately 10 -15% of stokes; of those haemorrhagic, 5 % are due to subarachnoid haemorrhage and 10% are due to intracerebral haemorrhage.




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