Economic cost of stroke 'set to triple' in UK

We project that the numbers of stroke survivors will more than double over the next 20 years

A new report from the London School of Economics and Political Science has estimated that the economic cost of stroke in the UK will treble over the next 20 years, while the number of stroke survivors is expected to more than double.

A stroke is a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. The analysis projects that the annual overall cost of stroke in the UK will rise from £26 billion in 2015 to a projected £75 billion by 2035 (without allowing for general inflation), while the number of stroke survivors over the age of 45 is estimated to reach 2.1 million, up from 950,000, over the same period.

A large proportion of the total economic burden of stroke is borne by informal (or unpaid) carers, such as friends and family (estimated 62%), and by the social care system (22%), with the NHS contributing 9% and lost productivity accounting for the remaining 7%.

The research was led by Dr Anita Patel [1], working with researchers at the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) LSE, and Queen Mary University of London, and commissioned by the Stroke Association.

Raphael Wittenberg, Associate Professorial Research Fellow within PSSRU, said: “We project that the numbers of stroke survivors will more than double over the next 20 years due to rising numbers of older people and improved survival after stroke.

“While longer lifespans and increased post-stroke survival rates are very welcome achievements, they will have substantial implications for future costs. It is important for improving the quality of life of stroke survivors and containing the projected rise in costs that cost-effective treatment and care are made more widely available, and that resources are invested in research to improve prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and long-term care.”

Dr Patel said: "Our estimates indicate that the economic burden of stroke significantly extends beyond those who experience a stroke and health care services, towards informal carers and social care services. There’s no doubt that these combined impacts will present real societal challenges in future.”

To address these mounting challenges, the authors have identified particular services and treatments, which are known to work, and recommend that provision of these services should be extended. The authors also estimate that investing £10 million into five priority areas of stroke research in the coming years could generate benefits that substantially reduce the societal costs of stroke.

Behind the article

The Summary report and the third part of the full report, 'Economic case for wider implementation of interventions that work' were published on the Stroke Association website.

[1] Two components of research funded by the Stroke Association are covered in these reports (April 2016 to September 2017; November 2017 to February 2018). Both were led by Dr Anita Patel, initially as Professor of Health Economics at Queen Mary University of London until June 2017 and subsequently as an independent researcher through Anita Patel Health Economics Consulting Ltd.