Stroke in Young Adults
Strokes are becoming more prevalent in young adults and even young children. The University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute presented study findings to the American Stroke Association (ASA) at a 2010 conference.The researchers have found that from 1993-1994 to 2005, the average age of stroke victims fell by three years and the percentage of young people (those 25 to 45) having strokes rose almost four percent, nearly doubling previous rates.
Associate professor Brett M. Kissela says that “we hope this data will serve as a wake-up call.”
I would certainly have to agree! Especially when a stroke is something that is completely preventable.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain or if a blood vessel to the brain is obstructed, restricting oxygen to the brain. This oxygen deprivation means cells in your brain will die within minutes. This leads to balance and movement problems, cognitive deficits, depression, language problems, learning disabilities, memory loss, paralysis, seizures, slurred speech, trouble swallowing and weakness.
The reason strokes are so dangerous–you need to seek treatment within 1-3 hours of experiencing one for the treatment to be effective.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the world. The World Health Organization reports that stroke is the 5th leading cause of mortality in low income peoples, 2nd in high income countries, 1st in middle income countries and takes 2nd place, after coronary heart disease, for the cause of death worldwide.
Strokes in Children & Young Adults
Dr. Jose Biller, author of Stroke in Children and Young Adults, estimates that five to ten percent of strokes occur in people under age 45. Dr. Seemant Chaturvedi of Wayne State University believes that 10 to 15,000 strokes occur in this age group every year in the US alone. Biller reports that 3,200 strokes strike youths under 18 every year in the US, and that’s according to conservative estimates. Between 6 and 20% of children that suffer from strokes die and half are left disabled.
“It may be that physicians are just not expecting stroke. A lot of the presentations were classic for stroke, but for whatever reason, they just weren’t recognized as such,”Dr. Chaturvedi said of strokes in younger children.
That’s what happened to 10-year old Josh Lovett. His mother thought he had the flu because he was vomiting and suffering from a bad headache. But when he began to have trouble walking five days later, a brain scan found that he had suffered a series of strokes.
Why the rise in strokes in children? When you look at the common risk factors for strokes and what causes them, it might be obvious to you.
Many of the same things that can lead to heart disease can lead to strokes:
With the rising instances of childhood obesity, which then leads to high blood pressure and plaquing in the arteries, it’s no wonder that our children are suffering from strokes more than ever.
Young girls are also being put on birth control pills at an earlier age. The ASA has said that the estrogen in birth control increases the risk of stroke in women and may be related to increased risk of blood clots.
Preventing a Stroke
Getting to the root of the problem is the best way to prevent a stroke from happening in the first place. Instead of treating symptoms, like high blood pressure, you need to figure out WHY your blood pressure is high.
Keeping your weight, and your child’s weight, at a healthy level through nutrition and exercise truly is the best method to preventing a stroke or any other expression of heart disease.
St. Louis Post (2010)
Medscape Medical News (2009)
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