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More strokes are now occurring at an earlier age

ACT FAST: Calling 999 as soon as a person begins to display any one of the stroke signs is essential (Image: NHS)

MORE FIRST time strokes are now occurring at an earlier age compared to a decade ago and black people are at a greater risk of experiencing a stroke at a significantly younger age.

Public Health England’s statistics show that over a third (38%) of first time strokes happen in middle aged adults (between the ages of 40 – 69).

Stroke survivor, Richard Djan-Krofa had a stroke in his late thirties.

Djan-Krofa said: “When I had a stroke I had no idea what was happening to me, I didn’t know much about stroke back then. Also, I thought only older people have strokes, I was young, leading a healthy lifestyle – I don’t smoke or drink and there was no history of stroke in my family.”

Recounting his experience, Djan-Krofa said: “One morning I was just about to drive my son to school when I felt dizzy. As we were leaving, I could hear my brother calling me but I couldn’t respond, the dizziness got worse and my face had fallen on one side. Before I realised what was happening I collapsed on the floor but I didn’t feel any pain.

“Thankfully my dad recognised the symptoms and called 999. I was admitted to hospital and was treated within an hour of having a stroke.”

The stroke had a significant impact on Djan-Krofa's physical health. “Stroke is a serious disease. I lost my speech completely for five months and my whole body was paralysed for some weeks. I spent four months in a rehabilitation centre where most of my time was spent on speech therapy,” he said.

Djan-Krofa made a good recovery and was able to return back to work just six months after having a stroke.

At the time he wasn’t aware that black people were at a higher risk of stroke and were more likely to have a stroke at a younger age than their white peers. Neither did he know how important it was to act fast when you notice any one the signs of stroke.

Now he strongly advocates the importance for everyone to be aware of the signs of stroke and to act fast. He said that because of the the heightened risk within the black community, we need to be more aware of the signs of stroke – facial weakness, arm weakness and slurred speech (the signs that inspired the NHS Stroke campaign's FAST acronym).

Calling 999 as soon as a person begins to display any one of the stroke signs is essential. Speedy treatment can help prevent deaths and disability.

Djan-Krofa said: “Stroke is still one of the leading causes of death in England. It’s often associated with older people, however, the latest research from Public Health England and my story shows that people are having strokes at a younger age. Everyone needs to be aware of the signs.”

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