If You Think You’re Too Young for a Stroke, Think Again.
Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability. In recent years, the rate of stroke has doubled among younger people, and one in seven strokes occur in people ages 15 to 49.
The upswing may be due to an increase in obesity and diabetes, as well as an increase in heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol. Migraine headaches, hormonal contraception, smoking and intravenous drug use have also been linked to stroke in young people.
Stroke is often called a “brain attack” because it is caused by decreased blood supply to the brain. Ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain and prevents blood from flowing to the brain. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die.
Recovering from a stroke can be a lifelong process, and when it happens at a young age, survivors face a different set of challenges than the elderly:
- Stroke can disrupt careers: Patients must take time away from work to recover, and spouses or partners may need to take a leave of absence to care for their loved one.
- Lingering effects of stroke can include fatigue, memory loss and concentration issues that interfere with work performance.
- Stroke can lead to financial hardship due to the loss of wages and cost of care during recovery.
However, young people tend to recover faster because they are in better physical shape, and because they have more neurological “reserve” to draw upon after a brain injury.
Up to 80 percent of common causes of stroke are controllable
It’s always the right time to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle.
There are things you can do now to reduce your risks:
- Exercise at least 30 minutes daily
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Control your blood pressure and cholesterol, even at a young age
- Avoid smoking
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation
- Know the signs of stroke
Be F.A.S.T. to recognize signs of stroke
If you think someone may be having a stroke, acting FAST could save a life.
Do this simple test:
Face Does one side of the face droop?
Arms Is one arm weak or numb, or does one drift downward?
Speech Is the person’s speech slurred?
Time If the person shows any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1, and make note of the time the first symptoms appeared.
Every minute counts when it comes to stroke. Treatment is most effective in the first few hours after symptoms start, so don’t wait to call 9-1-1. Learn more here.