Young People Increasingly at Risk for Stroke

Neurosurgeon looking at image of blood vessels | Image by create jobs 51/Shutterstock

Lifestyle factors, such as obesity and low levels of physical activity, have increased young adults’ risk for stroke, experts say.

Despite stroke risk being historically reserved for older individuals, those between the ages of 20 and 44 are beginning to see higher risk as well. This risk has grown by 44% in the past 10 years, according to Dr. Claudia Perez, a neuro-intensivist with Texas Health Fort Worth and an assistant professor at Texas Christian University’s Burnett School of Medicine, KERA News reported.

A stroke can happen in different ways, but it is always a medical emergency that requires immediate attention to prevent brain damage or even death, according to the Mayo Clinic.

When an ischemic stroke occurs, a part of the brain stops receiving enough blood due to a blocked artery. Since brain cells begin to die off after just a few minutes without oxygen, relieving this stoppage is critical.

In the case of a hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. Blood pressure increases in response to the bleeding, damaging the brain cells.

Some young people can be predisposed to stroke due to certain familial conditions, such as lupus or sickle cell disease, Perez explained. Yet she pointed out that considerable drivers of the heightened risk are a sedentary lifestyle and obesity.

“About 80% of stroke is preventable through living a more brain-healthy life, being active, eating healthy, making sure you’re sleeping well, and avoiding things like tobacco drugs and reducing the amount of alcohol that is being consumed,” Perez said, per KERA.

Obesity rates among not just adults but also children have been on the rise across the country, as extensively covered in The Dallas Express. Carrying around excess weight can increase not only one’s risk of stroke, but also of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

While these conditions may take years to develop, it is worth noting that an estimated 20.7% of Texas children aged 10-17 are considered obese.

Childhood obesity carries considerable health risks, but it can also cause an array of other problems, such as difficulty in school and diminished potential in the workforce. The financial burden of childhood obesity is also considerable, with an obese child incurring approximately $12,900 more in medical costs than one of a healthy weight.

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