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Young people suffering strokes is on the rise

3 min read

Experts are warning of an increase in strokes suffered by young people, including those in their 20's, 30's and 40's. The cause of which appears to be down to too much salty food.

High blood pressure increases your chances of having a stroke

New data has revealed that despite an overall reduction in the number of strokes in the UK, the proportion of stokes experienced by those of working age (approximately 25 to 64) has increased. 

These findings are being put down to more young people developing hypertension or high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases your chances of having a stroke.

According to Blood Pressure UK (a UK charity dedicated to lowering the nation's blood pressure to prevent disability and death from stroke and heart disease) the main reason for the rise in hypertension in this age group is poor diet.

Excess salt is the main cause and it's hidden in processed foods

Excessive salt intake along with low fruit and veg intake, carrying  excess weight and not doing enough exercise are all contributing factors to the rise in hypertension.

The quickest way to address high blood pressure is cutting salt intake to just 6g a day, say Blood Pressure UK. This equates to 1 flat teaspoon. However on average we're eating 10-12g per day with most our our salt intake hidden in processed foods which are totally tasteless without it. This means that most of us aren’t aware of how much salt we actually eat on a daily basis, and thus the danger we are putting ourselves in.

To give an example of this, a survey of 1,267 pizzas by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) found that overall, 612 (48%) had more than 6g of salt in them. Some takeaway and prepared pizzas contain almost three times an adult’s recommended daily intake of salt, the same as eating seven Big Mac burgers.

The Food Commission, the UK's leading independent watchdog on food issues, studied the ingredients in a number of processed foods including white bread, crisps, baked beans and canned tomato soup, comparing the salt content in 1978 with equivalent products selling today. Among the most disturbing findings was the discovery that salt in crisps has almost doubled since 1978, from an average of 540mg per 100g to 1050mg per 100g. In the rest, there wasn't much improvement, despite industry and government claims that salt has been cut in these processed foods.

6.5 million people with hypertension are thought to be undiagnosed

Since high blood pressure can go unnoticed without a blood pressure test, Blood Pressure UK are encouraging people, regardless of their age, to get theirs checked. In the UK, roughly one in three people has hypertension, and 6.5 million people are thought to be undiagnosed. 

High blood pressure accounts for 60% of all strokes, with an incredible nine out of ten of the cases of the latter being preventable.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Blood Pressure UK said:

“High blood pressure kills thousands of people every year in the UK, and is almost entirely preventable.

“As an individual having your blood pressure checked is the most important step that you can take to reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack or heart failure.”

In addition to high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks, which are two of the most common causes of death and illness in the UK, high salt intake is also associated with osteoporosis, fluid retention, asthma and stomach cancer.

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.