More than seven million British adults could be at risk of stroke because of rising stress levels, with women even more at risk than men, charity organisation The Stroke Association has warned.
Some 15% of UK workers consider themselves "extremely stressed", with the figure rising to nearly 20% of women compared with 10% of men, the survey by the charity concluded.
High blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for stroke and, alongside a bad diet and lack of exercise, high levels of stress are a key contributor to raising blood pressure, it added.
Almost one-fifth of those surveyed admitted they undertook no exercise at all, with a similar number managing 30 minutes once a week.
Middle-aged people (45- to 54-year-olds) are increasing their risk of stroke, with more than a quarter admitting to not exercising, as well as reporting the highest levels of stress across all age groups in the UK - with almost 50% claiming to be more than "moderately stressed".
And 40% of the public were not even aware of the link between exercise and stroke prevention.
The study was carried out ahead of Stroke for Stroke week at the end of January. James Beeby, head of corporate fundraising for The Stroke Association, said: "The research is incredibly worrying and emphasises the need for the public to be aware of the dangers of stroke."