A WOMAN who survived two strokes at the age of just 19 is campaigning to raise awareness of the life-threatening condition.

Claire Whitehouse, who lives in Bournemouth, had to learn how to walk and talk again after falling seriously ill as a teenager.

She has now a Vision Express initiative to give free blood pressure checks.

Of shoppers tested at a Bournemouth branch of Tesco last week, one in five were advised to seek further medical advice. Three people were told to seek urgent attention from their GP.

Claire, now 28, said: "I had two strokes at the age of 19 and I had to learn how to walk and talk again.

"I was unable to drive for four years due to my eye turning in, which is a common side effect of a stroke.

"I had surgery at Bournemouth eye hospital, after which Vision Express arranged glasses for me with a prism to centre my eye."

Claire now helps others to understand the warning signs that may precede a stroke by volunteering with the Stroke Association.

“I host these events help raise awareness of the signs of stroke, particularly with younger groups, as it was due to misdiagnosis that my two strokes took place," she said.

"Most people think that only older people can have a stroke and more needs to be done to make people aware it can be anyone, at any age.”

One of those who visited the clinic and was referred for further testing was resident Petronella Makepeace.

She said: “I discovered that my blood pressure is slightly raised and that I need to get it checked with my GP in the next couple of weeks.

"I’m glad I had it done – I thought I might have high blood pressure but never thought to take it further.

"You’ve got to look after yourself, and your heart, so these clinics are a really good cause."

More than half of all strokes are thought to be caused by high blood pressure. It is estimated that more than five million people in the UK are living with high blood pressure without realising.

Jay Ghadiali, director of professional services at Vision Express, said: “A blood pressure check is quick and painless, but it could be a life-saver.

"Stroke is much more common than many people realise."