Can Strokes Really Occur In Younger People?
As a young person, a having a stroke is probably the furthest thing from your mind- you might have even considered it as an impossibility. However that’s just not true; your risk does increase with age but it can actually happen at any point in your life, including in childhood.
Doctors consider you to be young to have a stroke if you’re under the age of forty five, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. The good news is that the overall rate of stroke is decreasing, but n younger and middle aged people it appears to be on the rise. Research has shown that the average age people have a stroke has decreased from seventy one to sixty nine, and that in those in the twenty to fifty four age bracket it increased almost twenty percent. What this might mean though is that we are simply recognising young stroke better, rather than more people actually having them. Thanks to early recognition, fast responses such as air ambulance transport and quick access to medical care, more young people are surviving and making a full recovery.
The treatment for a stroke in a younger person is often different, since the causes are usually different. While all strokes are caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, when you’re older this is most likely to be a result of an ‘ischemic stroke’ blood clot. These form inside the heart or a blood vessel, break off and travel to the brain. In children, it’s far more likely to be a result of an infection, trauma, dehydration, sickle cell disease or a heart disorder. Heart valve abnormalities, being born with a hole in the heart, or a torn blood vessel in the neck can also result in stroke. Another cause to be aware of in adolescents and younger people is intravenous drug use. Migraine, smoking, even pregnancy and birth control pills have been found to elevate risk. Being obese can massively put your health at risk too, and being overweight or obese as a child can increase your lifetime risk for having a stroke. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are all risk factors for stroke in themselves, and so being obese is linked with the risk of stroke.
Prevention is of course better than cure, and knowing what the risk factors are can help us make better decisions to avoid stroke. Eating a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grain, low fat dairy and lean protein will give your body everything it needs. A healthy diet and exercise will help you to maintain your weight and reduce your obesity related risks. Working with your doctor to find the cause of underlying disease and illness will ensure that everything is properly controlled and that you’re not vulnerable to stroke due to this.
A stroke at any age can be scary and debilitating, and a percentage of those who have one are left with a life long disability. However many can and do recover, the younger brain has better plasticity and therefore gives you a better rate of recovery.