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Issue:- 13 May / 12 May 2009

Today’s lifestyle raises younger women’s stroke risk by 50%

RESEARCH has revealed that young women today may be up to 50% more likely to have a stroke than twenty years ago. The findings show that although the risk of stroke in men has fallen by nearly 50%, it has actually risen for women under the age of 55.  Overall the results show a marked difference in trends between men and women. The risk of stroke for men across all age groups has fallen by nearly 50%, whereas women’s risk of stroke has only reduced by about 20% overall, partly due to a rise in risk in women aged under 55.

The Stroke Association believes this is down to today’s busy lifestyles. Young women are juggling careers and families, which can lead to having little time to themselves. By opting for quick ready meals high in salt and saturated fat, drinking alcohol in excess and not exercising, women are raising their blood pressure which is the biggest risk factor of stroke.

The study by Professor Peter Rothwell, from Oxford University, was part of the Oxford Vascular Study 20-year population study of stroke incidence. Professor Rothwell said:- “It is important to stress that the absolute risk of stroke in young women is low, but more research is required to understand the causes of stroke in this group and to improve health education to prevent stroke in younger women.”

Over 40% of all strokes could be prevented through the control of high blood pressure.  31% of women have high blood pressure, but nearly half aren’t receiving any treatment.

Joe Korner, Director of Communications for The Stroke Association said:- “On the eve of Stroke Awareness Day we want to highlight that many of the trappings that make life more convenient could be contributing to people’s risk of having a stroke.  Lack of exercise, ready made meals high in salt, sugar and fat and excess drinking can all contribute to the risk of getting high blood pressure and stroke.   We’re encouraging people to improve their diet, drink alcohol in moderation, stop smoking and get active to help reduce their risk of stroke.”

Bursary boost for 6th form students

EVERY 6th form student in Liverpool is set to get a £30 bursary to spend on learning materials such as books and stationary.  The city council’s Executive Board is being asked to approve the ground breaking proposal, which will benefit around 12,000 pupils aged 16 to 19 from September 2009.  The £360,000 scheme – provisionally titled:- ‘Stay on in Liverpool’ – is aimed at making sure that each Year 12 and 13 student is able to buy the equipment needed to get their academic year off to a flying start.

Council leader Warren Bradley said:- “Liverpool’s future success hinges on making sure that our young people get every chance to reach their full potential, regardless of their background or the income of their parents.  As a parent myself, I am acutely aware that books, art equipment and stationary can be hugely expensive and act as a disincentive when youngsters are deciding whether or not to continue their studies.  This bursary will make sure that every sixth form student has the opportunity to go out and buy the materials which they need.”

The city council is brokering a deal with top stationary firm Office Depot to offer substantial discounts, meaning that pupils will be able to get far more for their money than they would on the high street.  Councillor Keith Turner, executive member for education, added:- “These are tough economic times and every single penny counts for families.  This scheme will make sure that mums and dads won’t have to worry about having to find the cash to fork out for essential equipment.  We already have the best ever GCSE exam results in Liverpool, and the bursary will help post 16 students get the best possible start to their further education.”

Pupils will have to claim their entitlement via a special website during the 1st half term of the academic year.  The website will also include links to information relevant to their lives, such as careers, health advice and information about positive activities.  All equipment will be delivered to schools and colleges to make sure it gets to pupils and the system is not abused.  The Executive Board will consider the proposal at a meeting on Friday, 15 May 2009.

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