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What does the UK know about stroke and how to prevent it?

We wanted a better insight into people’s understanding of stroke and its causes before the launch of our campaign so at the end of February we asked a series of questions in a survey of almost 2000 adults in the UK.

See if you are better informed ……

Only 41% thought that stroke could be prevented and nearly half weren’t sure, showing that there is a real need for our campaign to increase awareness about stroke prevention.

74% knew that high blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke but only 17% knew that eating too little fruit and veg was a risk factor for stroke.

Almost a third knew that high blood pressure is the biggest cause of stroke. But only 12% knew that a high intake of salt was the largest cause of high blood pressure – most people thought it was being overweight, followed by stress.

A quarter didn’t know that  we should eat a maximum of 6g of salt a day (around a teaspoon)showing that public health messages don’t always reach the whole population, especially those over 55.

30% thought ready meals and shop-bought pizzas contributed the most salt to our diets. It’s actually bread and bread products but only 6% knew this. This is because although ready meals and shop-bought pizzas generally contain more salt we actually eat much more bread and bread products so overall they contribute the most salt.

71% think it’s an individual’s duty to reduce the salt in our food but only 25% of the salt we eat is added at the table or during cooking. The majority of the salt we eat, 75%, is already in the food we buy – making it hard for us as individuals to have much control of our intakes. 58% thought that the food industry should take action and 24% thought the government should.

Do you know.....?

  • Each year there are over 100,000 strokes in the UK.
  • There are more than 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK.
  • Stroke is the 2nd leading cause of death worldwide; in the UK it’s the 4th leading cause of death.
  • Between 1990 and 2010 the number of stroke deaths per 100,000 people fell by almost half.
  • In 2015 over 40,000 people died of stroke in the UK.
  • The stroke-related cost to the NHS and social care is around £1.7billion in England annually.

What raises the risk of stroke?

There are a number of lifestyle factors that raise the risk of stroke, such as high blood pressure, lack of exercise eating too much salt and drinking too much alcohol. There are a number of factors we can't change:

Gender: You are more likely to have a stroke at a young age if you are male. You’re more likely to die of stroke if you are female – this is because women live longer and have their strokes when they are older.

Ethnicity: If you are Black or South Asian (from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan or Sri Lanka) you are more likely to have a stroke compared to white people.

Social background:  If you are from a deprived area you are more likely to have a stroke than those from wealthier areas.

If you fall into these categories, make sure you get your blood pressure checked so that you can get the right medications or lifestyle advice from your GP, and keep your risk of stroke down.

We're releasing a new booklet all about how you can look after your health and lower your risk of stroke, including handy tips to make it easier. Contact our Nutritionist, Shefalee Loth, to pre-order yours at or 020 7882 6255.

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