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Strokes On The Rise Among Younger Adults

Thursday, Jun 23, 2016
Young Adults Stroke

New research suggests younger Americans are having more strokes than ever before.

When it comes to stroke, many people think it affects only older adults. In fact, according to new research the number of young Americans having strokes has risen significantly.

Nationwide, fewer people overall are being hospitalized for ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke that happens when a blood clot in an artery cuts off blood supply to the brain. Between 2000 and 2010, 28 percent fewer people aged 65-84 were hospitalized for stroke. The rate fell 22 percent in those 85 and older, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association (May 2016).

However, among young people and African-Americans, stroke hospitalizations are rising. There was an increase of stroke in younger adults – up 44 percent in people aged 25 to 44 and up nearly 5 percent in those aged 45-64.

In the U.S. as many as 10 percent of people who have strokes are ages 45 and younger.

The rise in young people having strokes may be due in part to the increase in stroke risk factors among this age group. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and tobacco use.

"The increased incidence of stroke in young people is also due to drug abuse, sports injuries and an increase in diabetes and obesity," said Brooke Kearins, Director ofStroke Services for Doylestown Health.

Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable by addressing lifestyle risk factors that can be treated or controlled.

To reduce stroke risk:

  • Do not smoke
  • Do not drink alcohol in excess (more than 1 drink per day for women and more than 2 drinks per day for men)
  • Do not use illegal drugs
  • Exercise regularly at least 4-5 times per week
  • Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Find a primary care provider and have regular physicals to monitor blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels.

No matter what your age, you should be familiar with stroke symptoms and what to do if someone is having these symptoms.

"The most important message I want to convey is the importance of not ignoring any of the stroke warning signs," said Brooke. "If you or someone you are with are having symptoms, call 911 to get to the hospital immediately, because we don’t have a lot of time to lose when treating a stroke."

"Time is brain" when it comes to treating stroke. There is a relatively short window of time to treat stroke and try to save as many brain cells as possible.

Brooke suggests remembering the acronym BE FAST for stroke warning signs:

  • B: Balance – loss of balance or coordination
  • E: Eyes – sudden change in vision
  • F: Face drooping
  • A: Arm weakness
  • S: Speech difficulty
  • T: Time the symptoms started and time to call 911

BE FAST was developed by Intermountain Healthcare, as an adaptation of the FAST model implemented by the American Stroke Association. Reproduced with permission from Intermountain Healthcare. Copyright 2011, Intermountain Health Care.

About Stroke Care at Doylestown Health

The Joint Commission awarded Doylestown Hospital with the Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers in recognition of our commitment to excellence in stroke care. Doylestown Hospital follows national guidelines that can greatly improve long-term outcomes for stroke patients.

American Heart Association and American Stroke Association's Get with the Guidelines ® -- Stroke Gold Plus award and qualified for recognition on the Target: Stroke Honor Roll.

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