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Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

What you need to know about the rising number of strokes in younger people

By Vaseline May31,2024

What health problems contribute to the increase in strokes among young people?
Dr. Willey: The main ones detailed in the CDC report and those we’ve seen from other studies are increases in obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes and high blood pressure in younger people. This translates to earlier cardiovascular disease and stroke, as the report outlines. In terms of high blood pressure, for example, it is estimated that if treated, it would help prevent 50% of strokes in the US.

In addition to cardiovascular disease and obesity, the opioid overdose epidemic may also be contributing to the increase in the youth population. There has been an increase in the use of intravenous (IV) opioids, and IV drug use has been linked to infections in the heart valves that can cause strokes.

Are the signs of stroke in younger people similar to those in older people?
The symptoms of stroke in both younger and older patients are generally similar, although outcomes in young patients tend to be better because they have better physical status at baseline, such as fitness and mobility. Because stroke is less common in young people, symptoms can be mistaken for migraines, pinched nerves, or multiple sclerosis.

What are the different types of strokes?
There are two main types of strokes. One is ischemic, which looks like a blocked pipe. When this happens, blood does not reach a certain part of the brain and that part of the brain dies. There is also a hemorrhagic stroke, in which the arteries burst.

In the US, ischemic stroke accounts for approximately 80% of all strokes, although there is significant variation by community. Communities with higher rates of hypertension and social determinants of health are more likely to experience a stroke. This type of stroke has a higher chance of being fatal compared to an ischemic stroke. Patients with this type of stroke uniformly present with a severe onset, rapid headache, often a disturbance of consciousness, which you don’t necessarily see in other types of strokes

Younger patients tend to have different types of strokes, but for the most part the rates of hemorrhagic strokes and ischemic strokes remain the same. A notable exception is pregnancy-related strokes, where the risk of a brain hemorrhage is increased.

If someone is having a stroke, what can people take into account to improve outcomes?
Most people can recognize signs and symptoms of a heart attack, but not those of a stroke. So it is important to be familiar with this. The acronym BE FAST covers most of the symptoms of a stroke. In 2021, the AHA approved a version of BE FAST in Spanish: RÁPIDO. It is important to emphasize that if someone has these symptoms and they last only a few minutes, it could be a sign that a larger stroke is on the way. People still need to get to the hospital as quickly as possible.

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