While strokes typically occur in people ages 65 and up, adults in younger age groups are now suffering strokes at increasing rates. In the mid-1990s, four percent of stroke victims were between in the ages of 20 and 45. In 2005, this number had jumped to seven percent. Research suggests that one reason for this increase in strokes is the obesity epidemic in young people.
If a younger person is having a stroke, they usually exhibit similar symptoms as older adults, but might not seek treatment as quickly. Strokes are still considered rare in people under age 50, so a younger person might not be as familiar with the signs of a stroke. One study revealed that young people suffering a stroke are more likely to be misdiagnosed in emergency rooms. This is because common symptoms of stroke, like headaches, vertigo and nausea, are often associated as migraines, intoxication or other health conditions in young people.
Causes of stroke in individuals under age 50
The primary causes of stroke in young people (ages 20-49) include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and excess drinking. There are also other medical problems linked to stroke, such as:
- Blood clots (or blood clotting abnormalities)
- Congenital heart disease
- Family history of stroke
- Drug abuse
- Trauma caused by whiplash or sports-related injuries
- Migraines combined with an aura, loss of vision or loss or function on one side of the head
- Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
Recovering from stroke and lowering your risk
Younger people who suffer a stroke have a better chance of recovery, compared to older adults. However, someone who suffered a stroke could still experience life-long disabilities as a result of this trauma.
To reduce your risk of stroke, adults should adopt healthy lifestyle habits, keep their blood pressure and cholesterol in check, stop smoking and maintain a healthy weight.
It's important to learn the signs and symptoms of a stroke. If you think anyone, young or old, is having a stroke, call 911 immediately.
From diagnosis and treatment to rehabilitation and recovery, conditions of the brain and spine require special care. When you choose a HealthONE hospital for neurology services, you can be confident that you will receive the best possible treatment from the most trusted neurology department in Denver.