Healthcare News & Insights

Strokes on the rise among the young

A dramatic increase in strokes among the under-50 set — and even 20-somethings — is as troubling as it is puzzling.

For some time now, researchers have found that the rates of stroke are increasing among younger people — even as the rate has stabilized among older patients.

For example, one CDC study found a 47% increase in ischemic strokes (those caused by a clot in the brain) among men 35 to 44 years old, from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. At the same time, rates of ischemic stroke have started to fall among older patients, thanks largely to increased awareness and high rates of compliance with medications that prevent clots from forming.

Experts are divided on what’s behind the increased stroke rate among younger people. Many believe it’s simply a matter of better diagnostic tools allowing doctors to identify strokes earlier on. Younger stroke patients tend to bounce back more easily. It’s possible that in the past, many patients who presented with seemingly insignificant balance issues, light-headness and temporary confusion were suffering with mild strokes that were missed.

Other health care professionals cite an increasingly unfit, overweight population as the main driver behind increased stroke rates.

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