A stroke is often considered to be a medical condition that is prevalent among older people. But is that actually the case, and are strokes among the younger population becoming more common?
The debilitating effect of a stroke can never be underestimated. They are serious medical emergencies that require urgent attention and can often have extremely serious consequences.
It’s previously been reported that 75 percent of strokes occur in people aged 65 or older, which could suggest that younger people are much less at risk from suffering from one. But, as we’ll cover in this post, that statistic doesn’t tell the whole story – far from it in fact.
There have been multiple reports which point towards the fact that strokes in young people are actually on the rise. In addition, young people are at an increased risk of experiencing a misdiagnosed stroke too. So, why might that be the case? We’ll be answering that question below…
What is a Stroke and How Do They Occur?
In basic terms, a stroke is likened to an attack on the brain. They occur when the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off, limiting the oxygen and nutrients the brain needs to function properly. When the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells can quickly begin to die.
There are two main causes of strokes. These are:
- Ischaemic: where the blood supply is stopped because of a clot.
- Haemorrhagic: where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts.
There’s also a related condition called a transient ischaemic attack (TIA). This is where the blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted, causing a ‘mini-stroke’. They can last a few minutes or persist for up to 24 hours.
What Are the Symptoms of a Stroke?
The symptoms of a stroke are best remembered by using the acronym FAST:
- Face: when suffering a stroke, someone’s face may drop on one side, and they may not be able to properly control the muscles in their face. For example, they may not be able to smile.
- Arms: someone who is suffering from a stroke may not be able to lift both of their arms and keep them there.
- Speech: speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person suffering a stroke may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
- Time: these symptoms mean that it’s time to immediately call 999.
What are the Effects of a Stroke?
There are a wide range of short and long-term effects of a stroke. These include:
Depression and anxiety are among the most common psychological problems that can arise following a stroke. These issues may settle over time, but medicines and psychological therapies may be necessary.
Strokes can affect general cognitive functions, including communication, spatial awareness, memory, concentration, executive function and praxis.
Movement and Physical Disability
Strokes can often cause weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, which results in problems with co-ordination and balance. This may improve over time, but the affects can sometimes be irreversible.
Increased Risk of a Second Stroke
After suffering a stroke, the chances of experiencing a second one are significantly increased. This means that long-term treatment with medicines to help reduce risk factors are necessary.
Strokes can damage the parts of the brain that receive, process, and interpret information sent by the eyes. This means that it’s common for people to lose half of their field of vision or cause double vision.
Are More Young People Experiencing Strokes?
As we grow older, our arteries naturally become harder and narrower, which increases the chances of them becoming blocked. However, certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors can speed up this process. This means that more people are suffering strokes sooner than might otherwise be expected.
In fact, the statistics relating to strokes in younger people point towards the fact that they are becoming more and more common. In the UK, a 2018 study found that that over a third of first-time strokes happened in middle-aged people, while the journal Stroke published statistics which revealed that 10 to 15 percent of all strokes occur in adults aged between 18 to 50.
Assessing exactly why more young people are seemingly vulnerable to strokes is difficult. Lifestyle choices such as a poor diet, a lack of exercise, and smoking can all increase the risk of strokes – all of which may go unchecked among young people who don’t have any other health conditions.
This means that it’s increasingly difficult to predict whether a stroke is likely, and therefore take measures to reduce the risk of it occurring.
There are a range of other inherited or hereditary conditions which can contribute to an increased risk of strokes. These include blood clotting disorders, sickle cell disease and congenital heart diseases.
How Can the Risk of Strokes in Young People be Decreased?
There are a number of ways in which younger people can reduce the chances of suffering from a stroke, particularly those who may naturally be at risk due to inherited conditions. Thankfully, these steps aren’t drastic, nor are they too complex. They simply help to promote a healthier lifestyle:
- Keep a close eye on blood pressure levels
- Quit smoking
- Keep your blood sugar (glucose) in the normal range
- Seek out treatment for heart disease
- Check cholesterol levels
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Get active and exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
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What Else Do You Need to Know About the Rise of Strokes in Young People?
In this post, we’ve discussed what strokes are and got some ways to explaining why they may be on the rise among young people. While they’re still a relatively rare occurrence, that isn’t to say that the lifestyle and health decisions we make aren’t having an effect on the increased rate.
Have you got any more questions regarding the rise of strokes in young people? If so, please leave them in the comments down below.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.