When we think about who suffers from strokes, most likely we think about older folks like our parents or grandparents. But more and more research has confirmed that strokes are impacting Americans at a younger age.
An online blog in the New York Times reported that last year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that found that while strokes in older people were slowly decreasing, incidents of ischemic strokes were sharply up for younger men and women, and even for children.
The Times wrote:
Stroke hospitalizations rose sharply among men and women ages 15 to 44, including a 51-percent jump among 15- to 34-year-old men. There were also notable increases among children, though the number of strokes in children remains very small over all. The study found increases of more than 30 percent in boys and girls ages 5 to 14. Hospitalization for strokes declined, however, in girls younger than 5.
The study authors urged caution in interpreting the results, because the research wasn’t designed to determine the reasons behind the changing hospitalization trends. A number of factors could explain the rise in young people, including changes in the way hospitals track patients admitted for stroke. Better awareness about stroke risk in young people, more referrals of young patients to stroke neurologists and improved diagnostic ability using scanning technology could also be fueling the rise in younger age groups. A rise in obesity and other related health problems may also explain some of the increase.
Dr. Mary George, a medical officer in CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention told USA Today in September, "I was surprised to see the extent of cardiovascular risk factors in this young population,” The focus on controlling these risks has usually been among older adults, George said.
She added, "We really need to encourage people to lead healthy lifestyles from the time they are very young," she said. "Stroke is largely preventable and eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, (and) avoiding tobacco and alcohol abuse can go a long way to prevent stroke."
This news is especially relevant to the Black community. Not only do we have higher and disproportionate rates of obesity, type-2 diabetes and hypertension, but we are also more prone to strokes and more likely to die from them as well.
Ischemic strokes are strokes that occur as a result of a clot within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. These types of strokes make up 87 percent of all stroke cases here in the U.S. Some common warning signs of stroke are:
—Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, often on only one side of the body
—Sudden confusion and trouble speaking or understanding others
—Sudden difficulty seeing
—Sudden trouble walking, feelings of dizziness and loss of balance or coordination
—Sudden severe headache of unknown cause
*If you are having any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately*
Remember, that strokes are largely preventable. What you do in your youth won't just catch up to you in your future, but also in your present.
To learn more about strokes, prevention and warning signs go here.
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