The total number of strokes among older people has also fallen, with better treatment and medical interventions being credited – although a rise in strokes among people aged between 35-54 has been attributed to rising obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The study, published by the British Medical Journal, shows that the overall number of strokes fell by 20% between 2001 and 2010. After adjusting for age and other potential factors, stroke deaths decreased by 55% during the study period.

Most strokes are in older people, often in their 80s, which is where most of the prevention effort has been. Of 425,000 strokes in the decade to 2010, about 33,000 were in people under the age of 55.

The report also found that the NHS was spending about 5% of its budget on caring for people who have been affected by stroke.

Olena Seminog, of the Nuffield department of population health at Oxford University, who is one of the authors of the report, said looking at stroke prevention is key.

“[The fall in deaths] is very good news but we should still appreciate the importance of prevention because people who have a stroke do have a high chance of surviving now, but many survivors will still [have] a lot of disability,” she said.

“That can be sometimes severe. It will have an impact on their lives and their families’ lives.”