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Survey shows widespread lack of awareness of stroke

Results from the world's most comprehensive Global Stroke Survey presented today by the Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE) highlight that more education on risk factors and signs and symptoms is needed to prevent the debilitating consequences of stroke. SAFE calls for an increase in global public awareness-raising initiatives that will ultimately benefit stroke patients and their caregivers.

Only 12% of patients surveyed consider themselves to be at risk, before they had their first stroke. Results also showed that only 18% knew the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke. Yet 60% of patients were suffering from high blood pressure, 32% from high cholesterol and 15% were smokers.

Despite the perception of stroke as an older person's disease, results showed that approximately 25% of patients were under 60 years when they suffered their first stroke. Less than half of stroke patients contacted the emergency services once they had noticed the signs and symptoms of the stroke.

Arne Hagen, President of SAFE, says: "Stroke is a disease where time to treatment affects the level of disability. Prevention of stroke through minimising risk factors is ideal. However where stroke does occur, we need patients to be diagnosed earlier, so we can help prevent death and ease disability. SAFE feels that national health authorities need to take greater action in communicating this, so that organisations such as ours can provide more effective support to both patients and caregivers."

Stroke does not only have an impact on the lives of patients, it also affects their emotional wellbeing. Two in three of the stroke patients surveyed said that they felt depressed as a result of their stroke and just under a third of these patients had these depressed feelings several times a month. Stroke also has a major impact on the lives of caregivers. Just under half of caregivers felt depressed as a result of caring for a stroke patient with a third suffering from depression several times a month.

Also 66% of caregivers said that caring for a stroke patient had affected their health stating stress/anxiety and tired/exhaustion as the major health concerns.