The average age of people suffering a stroke for the first time has fallen over the past 10 years, with more than a third happening in middle-age, the latest figures show.
While the majority – 58% – of strokes still happen in older age, 38% occur between the ages of 40 and 69, according to data from Public Health England (PHE).
This is up from 33% in 2007.
The average age for men having a stroke fell from 71 to 68 between 2007 and 2016, while for women it fell from 75 to 73.
Experts have urged people to be aware of the signs of a stroke, as the research shows the condition does not just affect the elderly.
Professor Julia Verne, director of PHE, said: “Stroke is still one of the leading causes of death in England. While it’s often associated with older people, the latest research shows that people are having strokes at a younger age.
“Everyone needs to be aware of the signs.”
One in six people in England will suffer from a stroke in their lifetime, PHE said, and it is estimated that about 30% of those people will go on to experience another one.
Some 57,000 people in England had their first stroke in 2016, the data showed.
A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, and is the third most common cause of premature death in the UK. There are about 32,000 stroke-related deaths in England each year.
Professor Verne added: “Calling 999 as soon as you see even one of the symptoms develop – in the face, arms and speech – is essential. Speedy treatment will help prevent deaths and disability.”
People aged between 40 and 74 have been urged to get an NHS health check to identify if they are at risk of a stroke.
Juliet Bouverie, chief executive of the Stroke Association, said: “We have said time and again that stroke devastates lives in an instant.
“Almost two thirds of stroke survivors leave hospital with a disability, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
“The faster you seek and receive emergency specialist treatment for stroke, the better your chances of making a good recovery.”