Stroke Prevalence Increasing in Younger Patients

Despite the rate of strokes going up among millennials and Generation X, some argue that not enough attention is being put on this epidemic. According to Kaiser Health News, doctors may overlook stroke symptoms in younger patients or misjudge how much rehabilitation they need afterwards.

The older individuals get, the more medical problems they become susceptible to. After all, young adults are supposed to be the picture of good health and in peak physical condition. However, recent reports show that certain brain ailments can affect people of any age, meaning youth alone does not adequately safeguard one’s well-being.

Since 2011, 10,000 baby boomers have been entering the age of retirement on a daily basis. According to the Pew Research Center, they will continue to do so until 2020. With these seniors leaving the workforce, younger generations have more opportunities to rise up in their jobs. However, certain health issues may stop them from being as productive as possible, especially the surprising increase of strokes.

Younger populations affected by strokes
As a whole, instances of hospitalizations due to strokes have gone down, according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. However, the rate of this type of brain incident increased about 44 percent between 2000 and 2010 among individuals age 25 to 44, dispelling the myth that strokes only occur in older adults.

Despite the rate of strokes going up among millennials and Generation X, some argue that not enough attention is being put on this epidemic. According to Kaiser Health News, doctors may overlook stroke symptoms in younger patients or misjudge how much rehabilitation they need afterwards.

These sentiments certainly ring true with Amy Edmunds, who experienced a stroke at age 45. After the incident in 2002, she went on to found YoungStroke, a non-profit advocacy that addresses the lack of community support and resources for young stroke in the U.S. She told KHN that certain stigmas add obstacles to her efforts.

“The American public is still very locked on stroke being an [affliction] of the elderly,” she said. “But we are an emerging population … and we really need to be recognized.”

Why the uptick in young strokes?
Lisa Yanase, a Providence Health & Services in Oregon stroke neurologist, partly blames the invincible mentality all too many young adults have, according to KHN. Because they have long been regarded as having optimal health, they do not always practice proper stroke prevention as their older counterparts do.

According to The Washington Post, medical experts also cite rises in various risk factors for the uptick in stroke rates, including obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. This is perpetuated by unhealthy lifestyle habits as opposed to age. According to the Mayo Clinic, habits like lack of exercise, binge drinking and use of certain illicit drugs can increase one’s risk for stroke.

Of course, some strokes are simply not preventable. In the case of Edmunds, even adequate diet and regular exercise could not stop the incident.