Monday, May 01, 2017

Strokes On The Rise Among Younger Adults

February 22, 20163:50 AM ET
Morning Edition
Rae Ellen Bichell


Hodge is one of many Americans having strokes at a younger age. About 10 percent of all strokes occur in people between 18 and 50 years old, and the risk factors include some that Hodge had: high blood pressure, overweight, off-kilter cholesterol, smoking and diabetes.


In particular, ischemic strokes — caused by a blockage in the blood vessel, rather than a bleed — are sharply increasing among people under age 50, statistics show.

This is not to say that stroke is becoming a disease of young people.

"The majority of strokes are still happening in older individuals, says Dr. Amytis Towfighi, a vascular neurologist with the University of Southern California. "What's concerning is that the incidence and prevalence of stroke amongst younger individuals has increased, and it's increasing significantly."

The most likely underlying reason, she says, is obesity; the constellation of health issues that come with it can wear down or block a person's blood vessels.

A national survey found that between 1995 and 2008, the increased number of young people (ages 15 to 44) who were hospitalized for stroke closely followed an increase in several chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and lipid disorders.

"People who are obese are at greater risk for high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is the leading risk factor for stroke," says Dr. Mary George, senior medical officer with the CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and an author on the national study. In 1995, about 3 percent of patients between 15 and 34 years old who had ischemic strokes were obese. By 2007, 9 percent were obese.

"One in three men in that age group had hypertension," says George. "That's very high."


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