The increase in stroke rates in younger people may be due to a rise in obesity and diabetes.
For most young people, the chance of having a stroke seems like an impossibility — but there is no such thing as being too young for a stroke.
Your stroke risk increases with age, but a stroke in young people, including infants, children, adolescents, and young adults, does happen.
In general, however, most experts consider a young stroke age to be under 45.
Even though the overall rate of stroke is decreasing, it is increasing for young and middle-aged people.
A study published in October 2012 in the journal Neurology looked at stroke trends in the Greater Cincinnati area in 1993, 1994, and 2005.
They found that the average age of stroke decreased from 71 in the mid-nineties to 69 in 2005.
While those younger than 55 accounted for about 13 per cent of all strokes in 1993 and 1994, that number rose to nearly 19 per cent in 2005.
One reason for increased detection may be the use of MRIs for picking up early changes in the brain after a stroke — a technology that wasn’t as widely used 20 years ago.
On the other hand, several studies have shown that many of the risk factors that make someone susceptible to strokes, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity, are becoming more common in younger people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently conducted a study examining whether or not younger people are truly experiencing more strokes, and while their full report hasn’t been released yet, their early conclusions seem to indicate that the higher number of strokes may be linked to an increase in risk factors??
Here are some statistics for the annual incidence of stroke in those younger than 45 in Nigeria
The current prevalence of stroke in Nigeria is 1.14 per 1000 while the 30-day case fatality rate is as high as 40%.
- From birth to age 19, there are nearly 5 strokes for every 100,000 children.
- Stroke in all people under 45 ranges from 7 to 15 per 100,000.
How Stroke in Younger People Is Different
Treating and managing stroke in people younger than 45 requires a different approach because you need to look for different causes.
“Compared with stroke in older people, stroke in the young is a different beast,” says S. Ausim Azizi, MD, PhD, a professor and the chair of neurology at Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia.
There are several types of stroke, but all of them are caused by the decreased blood supply to the brain.
The most common type is an ischemic stroke, and they’re either caused by a blood clot in the brain’s blood vessels or a blood clot that develops outside the brain and travels to those vessels.
“Cardiogenic causes account for more stroke in young adults.
Another cause to watch out for in young people is drug use, especially intravenous drugs,” says Dr Azizi.
Cardiogenic causes may include rheumatic heart disease, heart valve abnormalities, and being born with a hole between the right and left side of the heart called a patent foramen ovale.
“Up to 25 per cent of stroke under age 45 is caused by a dissecting blood vessel in the neck.
This is a small tear in a big blood vessel that causes a clot to form and travel to the brain.
Other stroke causes that have been linked to younger stroke age include migraine, pregnancy, birth control pills, and smoking,” says Andrew Russman, DO, a neurologist and the medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
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