World Stroke Day: New poll reveals women are unaware of their stroke risk

Mayor of Derry, Councillor Brenda Stevenson met with Stroke Association service user Ruby Sutherland and Graduate Speech and Language Therapist Aine Barrett ahead of World Stroke Day on October 29th. The theme this year is women and stroke. Ruby attends the Stroke Association Communication Support Group in Derry which meets every Tuesday at Oaklee Housing Association. Derry City Council are also lighting up the council offices in purple in support of World Stroke Day. Photo by Lorcan Doherty.

Mayor of Derry, Councillor Brenda Stevenson met with Stroke Association service user Ruby Sutherland and Graduate Speech and Language Therapist Aine Barrett ahead of World Stroke Day on October 29th. The theme this year is women and stroke. Ruby attends the Stroke Association Communication Support Group in Derry which meets every Tuesday at Oaklee Housing Association. Derry City Council are also lighting up the council offices in purple in support of World Stroke Day. Photo by Lorcan Doherty.

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One in eight women in the UK wrongly believes that a stroke could never happen to them, according to the findings of a poll recently published by the Stroke Association charity. Around 30,000 women die from a stroke every year. The condition is the third leading cause of death in women in the UK and the second biggest killer worldwide.

The charity’s latest poll (i), commissioned to mark World Stroke Day on 29 October, uncovers widespread misconceptions about stroke amongst women. The findings, based on a UK-wide survey of 2,000 adults, show that:

Three quarters of women (74%) did not know that stroke is one of the world’s biggest killers

Fewer than a third of women (28%) said they thought they would be most likely to have a stroke as they got older.

Tom Richardson, Northern Ireland Director of the Stroke Association said; “It’s extremely worrying that thousands of women don’t even have stroke on their radar. We know that women’s stroke risk significantly increases as they get older. One in five women will have a stroke in their lifetime and stroke kills three times as many women as breast cancer every year. Women have more strokes than men and there are a number of stroke risk factors unique to women, including pregnancy, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.

“This should serve as a wake-up call to women of all ages to be aware and better informed of the steps they can take to reduce their stroke risk. Simple lifestyle changes, such as keeping blood pressure under control and stopping smoking, could significantly lower women’s likelihood of having a stroke.”

Mayor of Derry, Councillor Brenda Stevenson, said: “The figures that have emerged in this report are deeply concerning for local women and I would strongly urge women to educate themselves about the very real risks of Stroke. There are resources out there offering advice on lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce that risk and the Stroke Association is a great place to start. Let World Stroke Day mark the start of a new and more resolute campaign to combat this condition.”

In support of World Stroke Day, Derry City Council are lighting up the council offices purple

The research also found that women have different attitudes towards the consequences of stroke compared to men. The findings show that;

· Over half of women (51%) said they feared becoming reliant on others as a result of a stroke, compared to just two fifths of men (44%)

· Memory loss was one of the most feared consequences of a stroke for men, while a greater proportion of women feared losing their ability to speak(ii)

· Just one in 25 women (4%) said they feared losing their ability to walk.

Mr Richardson continued; “Stroke can hit you out of nowhere and rob you of your speech, your ability to walk, your memory, your independence and your dignity.

“On World Stroke Day (29 October) 2014, we’re urging women everywhere to have a better understanding of their risk factors for stroke. We offer advice, information and support on our website and through our Helpline for anyone worried about stroke and its impact. The condition doesn’t have to be inevitable; together we can conquer stroke.”

To mark World Stroke Day, the Stroke Association is launching a new fundraising campaign aimed at raising awareness of the impact of stroke on women. To find out more and to view information and support available, visit www.stroke.org.uk/women