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An increasing number of young and middle-aged people are suffering from strokes, a new study has found.

The number of New Zealanders dying from strokes has dropped dramatically in the last 20 years, but it's affecting more young and middle-aged people, a major new study has found.

The ground-breaking Global research, headed by New Zealand professor Valery Feigin, found a startling 25 per cent global increase in the number of stroke cases among people aged 20 to 64 over the last two decades.
About 62 per cent of new strokes hit people under the age of 75, the study found. In addition, it found about 83,000 people aged under 20 years suffer from strokes each year - 0.5 per cent of all stroke victims.

In 2010, 16.9 million people suffered from first-time strokes globally and researchers say if current trends continue the cost of stroke will double by 2030. The study authors warned that the shift in stroke burden towards younger populations was likely to continue globally unless effective preventive strategies were urgently implemented.

"The healthcare system has so far been largely unsuccessful in providing meaningful information to assist people to adhere to recommended lifestyle and medication," Valery Feigin said.
More than 90 per cent of strokes are potentially avoidable Valery Feigin said. The researchers put it down to a rise in the prevalence of risk factors in these countries involving unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity and smoking. In low-income and middle-income countries, strokes claimed more lives (42 per cent higher mortality) and was associated with more disability and illness (46 per cent greater) than in high-income countries.

Traditionally associated with old age, strokes affect brain function by disturbing blood flow and can lead to disability and death.