Young People Are Having More Strokes

This isnt just your grandparents' problem any more. 

Posted: 04/10/2013 11:56 AM EDT

Strokes are most common in old age, but new research suggests that particular lifestyle choices are putting young people increasingly at risk for stroke. In a study, researchers found the rate of strokes among adults younger than 55 nearly doubled between 1993 and 2005. Among African Americans, it climbed from 83 to 128 per 100,000.

The researchers said they could only speculate on possible explanations. One might be that doctors are detecting strokes in young people more often – both as a result of better brain-imaging technology and of being more vigilant for stroke in the young.

“But I really don’t think that’s the major reason,” said lead researcher Dr. Brett M. Kissela, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “We’re definitely seeing a higher incidence of risk factors for stroke now,” he said in an interview.

Those risk factors include obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

“And if you’re developing them at the age of 20,” Kissela said, “then you may have a stroke at a younger age, too.”

A researcher not involved in the study agreed that better diagnosis and a real increase in young people’s risk of stroke are both probably at work. “Now MRI allows us to detect smaller strokes,” said Dr. Mitchell S.V. Elkind, of Columbia University in New York, who co-wrote an editorial published with the study. “Strokes come in all shapes and sizes,” Elkind said.

That includes subtle symptoms like mild degrees of blurry vision, weakness or numbness. In the past, doctors might not have thought “stroke” when a relatively young person had symptoms like that. And MRI scans, which can detect subtle brain damage from stroke, were not used often back in the 1990s.

Read more about young people and stroke at BlackDoctor.Org.

BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter. 

Get ready for the BET Experience, featuring Beyoncé, Snoop DoggR. Kelly, Erykah BaduKendrick Lamar and many more. Go here for more details and info on how to buy tickets.

(Photo: JupiterImages/GettyImages)

Videos You May Like

From Our Partners