Thursday, May 26, 2016

Warning to the young - strokes can strike younger adults

Today, I'm the oldest I've ever been.

But my stroke happened at the young age of 39. And while that happened in 1998, it seems that since 2000, we're seeing a troubling rise in strokes in young adults, starting at age 25:
There's a troubling statistic in the United States when it comes to strokes.
Although stroke hospitalizations have declined in recent years among the aged, the opposite appears to be be happening among younger Americans. In a study released Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found that between 2000 and 2010, hospitalizations for ischemic stroke, the most common type, dropped nearly 20 percent overall — but among people ages 25 to 44, there was a sharp 44 percent increase in the rate.
Ischemic stroke accounts for about 80 percent of all strokes and occurs when a blood vessel in the neck or brain is blocked. Deprived of blood’s oxygen and vital nutrients, brain cells begin to die and the abilities controlled by that part of the brain, like muscular control or speech, are compromised.
Doctors attribute the apparent rise in strokes among younger adults to the same lifestyle risk factors traditionally found in older patients, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. For other young adults, stroke may be caused by rare conditions, like congenital heart defects, or injury to the arteries in the neck, which can be caused by even minor trauma.
“When people think of stroke, they think of Grandpa who smokes and has high blood pressure,” says neurologist Lee Schwamm, director of Massachusetts General Hospital, Acute Stroke Services. “And while he’s more likely to have one, it doesn’t mean that if you’re young and healthy you can’t have a stroke too.”
Many, many strokes are preventable - not all, but many. It makes sense to take good stroke prevention steps, no matter the age.

(Photo from Isaac Mao via Flickr)

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