Although strokes usually occur in people age 65 and up, adults in younger age groups are suffering strokes in increasing numbers. Researchers have suggested that the obesity epidemic in young people is one reason for the increase.
Young people usually exhibit similar stroke symptoms to older adults. However, young adults may not seek treatment as quickly since strokes are considered rare in those under 50. One study found that young people are also more likely to be misdiagnosed in emergency rooms because common symptoms such as headaches, vertigo and nausea may be associated with migraines, intoxication and other conditions.
Cause and effect
The main causes of stroke in young people are: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and excess alcohol consumption. However, other medical problems are also linked to stroke, including:
- Blood clots or blood clotting abnormalities
- Congenital heart disease
- Family history of stroke
- Drug abuse
- Trauma from whiplash or sports-related activities
- Migraines combined with an aura and/or loss of vision or function on one side
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
Young adults have a better chance of recovering completely from stroke, but may suffer life-long disabilities as a result of the trauma. To lower stroke risk, young adults should manage critical lifestyle risks: keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check, lose excess pounds and stop smoking.
If you notice signs of a stroke in anyone young or old, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Angel Pulido, Stroke Medical Director at St. David’s Medical Center