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A fifth of women, double the number of men, feel their stress levels are out of control, according to a survey of 2,000 people.

Experts say stress raises blood pressure, putting people at greater risk of a stroke. A poor diet and lack of exercise also contribute to the chances of suffering a stroke.

Stroke is the third most common cause of death in England and Wales after heart disease and cancer, killing more than 67,000 people every year, the Telegraph reported.

The survey, by the Stroke Association and engineering company Siemens, found almost a fifth of people who said they took no exercise.

More than a quarter of people aged between 45 to 54 said they never exercised, despite suffering the highest stress levels. Almost half said they were under more than "moderate stress".

Overall, 40 per cent of those surveyed said they were unaware of the link between exercise and lowering the risk of stroke.

James Beeby of the Stroke Association said: "The research is incredibly worrying and emphasises the need for people to be aware of the dangers of stroke."