Stroke rates up in teens, young adults from known risk factors

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

More teens and young adults are being hospitalized for stroke, largely from known lifestyle risk factors that lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and lipid abnormalities. Researchers say the finding highlights the importance for parents to guide adolescents and teens toward healthy food choices, avoidance of tobacco and dietary salt and regular exercise.

More young stroke patients with hypertension, diabetes

In the fourteen year study, the researchers found one in three patients age 15 to 34 also had high blood pressure. Twenty five percent in the 35 to 44 year old age group also had diabetes.

The overall incidence of hospitalization for stroke for people age aged 15 to 44 increased up to 37% between 1995 and 2008.

Mary George, M.D., M.S.P.H., lead author of the study and a medical officer with CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention said, "Our results from national surveillance data accentuate the need for public health initiatives to reduce the prevalence of risk factors for stroke among adolescents and young adults."

Another reason for higher stroke and hospitalization was found to be tobacco smoking that has increased in younger adults.


From the study finding, published in the Annals of Neurology, one in three males aged 15 to 44 were tobacco users. One in four females aged 15 to 34, one in three females aged 35 to 44 also used tobacco. Many also had co-existing health risks putting them at higher risk for ischemic stroke such as obesity and high cholesterol.

The study authors are working with public health officials to get the message out that Americans need educated about stroke risk factors that have increased 37 percent.

Emphasis for curbing the higher rates of ischemic stroke that comes from blocked blood flow to the brain includes higher intake of fruits and vegetables, consuming foods low in saturated fats and sodium, regular daily physical activity and avoidance of smoking.

The study, which took place over fourteen years, found higher rates of obesity, tobacco use and cholesterol problems in teens and young adults, accounting for higher rates of ischemic stroke and hospitalization that is occurring at younger ages.

“Trends in Stroke Hospitalizations and Risk Factors in Children and Young Adults: 1995-2008"; Mary G. George, Xin Tong, Elena V. Kuklina, Darwin R. Labarthe. Annals of Neurology; Published Online: September 1, 2011 (DOI:10.1002/ana.22539).

Image credit: Morguefile


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