If you’ve ever thought that stroke wasn’t a threat to your health simply because you’re too young, think otherwise. A team of researchers have found that stroke rates are increasing in people in their 30s and 40s.
While rates have been declining for people in their mid- to late-50s and older, a new report from the Journal of the American Heart Association has found rates more than doubling for people aged 35 to 39, and doubling for people aged 40 to 44.
“People, especially those under 50, need to realize that stroke does not just occur in the old,” says lead report author Joel N. Swerdel, M.S., M.P.H. “And the outcome can be much more debilitating than a heart attack – leaving you living for another 30 to 50 years with a physical disability.”
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the disease is currently the third leading cause of death in the United States. Two types of stroke are known to occur: ischemic stroke, which is caused by clotting that blocks blood flow to the brain; and hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by a ruptured blood vessel bleeding into the brain.
Risk factors for stroke include smoking, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol. If you’re at all concerned, about your risks, the American Stroke Association offers a variety of pointers and guidance on ways to assess and potentially minimize your risk factors, including stopping smoking, changing diet and exercise habits, and more. Of course, consulting your medical professional is always advised.
As to what may be causing the decline in older generations versus an increase in younger generations, the research authors point out that there are outstanding questions of “how early life influences risk,” pointing to such differences as childhood diets as a mitigating factor. “Higher rates of obesity, diabetes and failure to take prescribed medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol may be contributing to the upswing,” the report concludes.