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Stroke victims 'need help at work'

Published 12/05/2015

The number of people suffering a stroke has risen due to unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles
The number of people suffering a stroke has risen due to unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles

Employers are not doing enough to help workers who have suffered a stroke, which has rocketed in recent years as people lead increasingly sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles, a charity has warned.

The number of strokes occurring in men aged between 40 and 54 in England has gone up by nearly half (46%) in less than 15 years, while it has risen by almost a third (30%) in women, the Stroke Association said.

Overall, the number of strokes occurring in people of working age (20 to 64) rose by a quarter during the same period.

The charity said its analysis of hospital data shows that stroke, which occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, does not just happen to older people.

It also warned its findings have serious implications for the UK economy, as more people of working-age will be forced to live with a loss of income due to death and disability, already costing £1.3 billion each year.

It carried out a survey, which found that people who have suffered stroke are struggling to get back to work due to a lack of understanding.

Just one in 20 employers recognised cognitive difficulties as a symptom of stroke while just half had heard of the Government's Access to Work Scheme.

The charity also said the rise in stroke amongst those of working age means more people will be forced to live with the heavy financial impact of the condition.

Stroke survivors unable to return to work can struggle to cope with a fall in income, increased household bills and a benefits system which does not recognise the full impact of stroke, it warned.

The Stroke Association's chief executive, Jon Barrick, said: "These figures show that stroke can no longer be seen as a disease of older people. There is an alarming increase in the numbers of people having a stroke in working age.

"This comes at a huge cost, not only to the individual, but also to their families and to health and social care services.

"The simple truth is that we must do more to raise people's awareness of risk factors, to help prevent them from having a stroke. We also need the right health and social care services available. People must have the support they need to make the best possible recovery and avoid having to cope for decades with the disabilities that stroke can bring."

Brendan Roach, senior disability consultant at Business Disability Forum, said: "Our experience of working with organisations for over 20 years demonstrates that businesses with an effective and well publicised process for making disability-related workplace adjustments are best placed to meet the challenge of risings rates of stroke.

"That's why we're supporting the Stroke Association's work to encourage employers to understand the needs of stroke survivors and become 'disability-smart'."

:: T he Stroke Association said there were more than 4,260 hospital admissions for stroke among men aged between 40 and 54 in England in 2000, going up to 6,221 in 2014. The figure was 3,529 for women in 2000, rising to 4,604 in 2014.

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