Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Myth No. 3: Strokes are just for elderly people

I was 39. And I'm not the only one, not by far - scores of people younger than me have had strokes. Thus another installment of the occasional series about myths about strokes.

Strokes do not recognize your age. It can happen to the young or the old. Check out the chilling facts about how hospitalizations are rising quickly among younger adults:
Because strokes are most often associated with old age, symptoms in younger adults are often overlooked, according to patients, advocates and physicians. And their need for rehabilitation – to return to active lives as parents and employees, for instance – can be underestimated.
“The American public is still very locked on strokes being an affliction of the elderly,” said Amy Edmunds, who had one in 2002 at age 45 and later started a nationwide advocacy and support organization called YoungStroke. “But we are an emerging population … and we really need to be recognized.”
The rate of hospitalization for strokes among adults dropped nationwide by 18 percent between 2000 and 2010, but it increased almost 44 percent for people ages 25 to 44 over those same 10 years, according to research published in May in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The biggest decline was among patients ages 65 to 84, for whom stroke-induced hospitalizations decreased by almost 29 percent. For people over 85, the rate of hospitalization for strokes dropped 22 percent.
The reasons behind the rising prevalence among young people are not entirely clear, but physicians believe they include growing risk factors such as hypertension, smoking and obesity. And because younger patients tend to have less awareness of strokes, they may not be as proactive about controlling those risks.
“Older people are educated and understand they need to take care of themselves and are doing all the things to prevent strokes,” said Lisa Yanase, a neurologist at Providence Health Services in Portland, Ore. “Young adults … think they are bulletproof. They think nothing can hurt them. They haven’t had the realization that these things can actually be bad for them.”
The last point - young adults might not be as aware of stroke risks. I know I wasn't back in the day. So don't fall into the myth that if you're under 65, you're strokeproof.

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