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Europeans ‘Gambling’ with Risk of Stroke New survey indicates low awareness and ...

dangerously indifferent attitudes to causes of stroke

European Stroke Prevention Day, 10.05.07: Europeans are gambling with the risk of stroke, according to a new survey which reports low awareness and dangerous attitudes towards the killer condition.1 A significant number of respondents are living with an increased risk of stroke because of lifestyle choices, and indicated that a better understanding of the condition would change their behaviour.

Respondents with high blood pressure (hypertension) demonstrated awareness of its specific link to stroke, yet worryingly around one in three (31%) had not recently checked their blood pressure.1,2 The prevalence of stroke could be significantly reduced with straightforward changes to lifestyle and if those with hypertension visited their doctor for regular monitoring and effective control of blood pressure. 2

The Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE) has organised European Stroke Prevention Day to:

- Raise awareness of the risk of stroke and that it is preventable

- Launch an educational online tool, to highlight the risk factors of stroke and allow people to assess their own risk of stroke. (

- Call for more support from health policy makers across Europe for public education on stroke

The ‘Gambling with Stroke’ survey of 3,155 people in the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands is endorsed by SAFE.1 Nearly half of all respondents were unaware of the likelihood of suffering a stroke compared to cancer or heart disease. Annually, around 15 million people in total suffer from a stroke and it is the third most common cause of death in developed countries, exceeded only by coronary heart disease and cancer. 2 Consequently, someone dies of stroke every 6 seconds.2,3

The lifestyle of a considerable number of respondents placed them at an increased risk of stroke, with 51% of all respondents admitting to smoking cigarettes and 30% of all respondents drinking more than the recommended daily units of alcohol.1 However, Europeans were not willing to gamble in other, less hazardous areas of their lives; 84% of all respondents had refused to bet even on a sporting event. 1

A related survey conducted among key EU health policy makers including Members of the European Parliament, indicates that policy makers believe most citizens are not aware of the risks of stroke and that public education on stroke should therefore be addressed. 4

Mr Arne Hagen, President of SAFE said, “We want to encourage people to take action and have their blood pressure measured regularly. Disregarding high blood pressure can have fatal consequences. Even patients who are treated for their hypertension are not always controlled. Evidence has shown that for every 10 people who die of stroke, four could have been saved if their blood pressure had been controlled.2

“This survey shows that people are unnecessarily gambling with the severe, long-term, disabling consequences of stroke. By undertaking simple methods of controlling blood pressure such as practising a healthy lifestyle and when recommended using the proven therapy available, it is possible to prevent a stroke”, Mr Hagen continued.

“By providing the opportunity to learn about the serious issue of stroke in an engaging way, the ‘Gambling with Stroke’ tool will help people to better understand the risk factors of the condition and to take action if they are at risk”, he added.

SAFE is a non-profit-making organisation that represents a range of patient groups from across Europe whose mutual goal is to drive stroke prevention up the European political agenda and prevent the incidence of stroke through education.

1. SAFE. Gambling with Stroke Survey, TNS Market Research 2007
2. Mackay J, Mensah G., eds. The Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke, Part 3: Global Burden of Stroke. The WHO in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on 05 March 2007.
3. Thom T, Haase N, Rosamond W et al. Heart Disease and stroke statistics – 2006 update: A Report from the American: Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Circulation 2006;113:e85–e151.

4. EU Policy Makers Survey on Stroke conducted by SAFE/Fleishman-Hillard Brussels., January-February 2007

joanna williams | alfa
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