Strokes on the Decrease for the Elderly and on the Increase for the Young

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We live in a world where obesity, hypertension and diabetes are on the increase. These are also some of the blame for the increase of strokes with younger people between the ages of 20-45.

A study which looked at patients from Ohio and Kentucky discovered that fewer older people are suffering strokes. On the flip side, the study has discovered that the age of younger people age 20 to 45 suffering strokes rose to 7.3 percent in 2005, up from 4.5 percent in 1993-94.

The study's lead author Brett M. Kissela, Associate Professor, Co-Director of the Neurology Residency Program, at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute stated, "This is scary and very concerning. What was shocking was the proportion of patients under age 45. The proportion is up, the incidence rate is up."

The increased prevalence of diabetes, hypertension and obesity could be a possible explanation for the trend noted likely occurring throughout the United States, the research speculated. Kissela said "As physicians, we need to look for these potent risk factors even in young people. Stroke is a life-changing, devastating disease. It can affect young people, and we hope these data will serve as a wake-up call.

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“Since stroke patients often suffer impairments that limit their ability to work, such a trend toward younger stroke patients could have big social and economic consequences,” said Dr. Brett Kissela.

"Diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity are getting more and more common in young people," said Kissela. Doctors say high blood pressure is the number one risk factor for having a stroke. High blood pressure is a condition that's easily detected and often treatable.

"Diabetes is a really potent risk factor for stroke," he said. "If you have diabetes before age 65, your stroke risk goes up as much as tenfold." Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, and one of the leading causes of long-term disability. Every year, about 795,000 strokes occur in the United States, and 144,000 Americans die from stroke.

Symptoms of a stroke include weakness or numbness on one side of the body, slurring of speech, and trouble understanding what people are saying to you.

“If we do not reverse this trend, we will unfortunately see more strokes in young people,” Brett M. Kissela, MD, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute, said in an interview. “That is tragic, because if you are young and disabled by stroke, there is a significant amount of productive life lost.”

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