Strokes Impacting Younger People

By: Jillian Risberg Email
By: Jillian Risberg Email
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UPDATE: 10/25/13 8:15 PM

Stroke rates among young people worldwide are increasing, a troubling fact that is hitting close to home.

"Young people (are) not used to having illnesses or diseases, so as a result they just assume that it's going to go away,” says Dr. Anthony Kitchen, emergency medical director at Camden Clark Medical Center.

High blood pressure, obesity, smoking and illicit drug use; stroke risk factors that aren't specific to the older population anymore.

"The age has significantly started to decrease as those risk factors have increased in our area,” says Loni Collins, stroke program coordinator at Camden Clark.

There's an increased unhealthiness in young people today.

"Sometimes we'll see effects in people that are very young, in their 20s having stroke and heart attack,” says Rhonda Boso-Suggs, director of stroke and rehabilitation services at the hospital.

Other things can mimic stroke.

"Migraines, bells palsy,” Kitchen says. “Many times people feel that it must be something else."

Spot a stroke F.A.S.T.

"F stands for face, if there's a drooping or an asymmetry to one side of the face; A stands for arm, we ask that you try to raise your arms; S stands for speech, referring to slurred speech and T stands for time -- brain is important and time is brain, so if you have any symptoms of stroke at all, we want you to dial 911,” Boso-Suggs says.

Your risk of stroke doubles when you reach age 65, so do what you can right now.

"Think about your diet, if you eat a lot of high fat foods,” Collins says. “Think about your lifestyle, if you're sedentary, try to get up and get active; if you're diabetic, watch your blood sugar because that can damage the insides of the vessels."

Preventable, treatable and beatable.

According to Boso-Suggs, "prevent it by adopting a healthy lifestyle, we can treat it with state of the art care, and we can certainly beat stroke by assisting patients with recovery."

It's always better to be safe than sorry.

"Come in immediately if you have symptoms,” Kitchen says. “The key to treatment is early detection."

According to experts, almost 85 thousand people 20 and younger suffer a stroke each year and those under 50 account for 20 percent.

Premature death caused by stroke is expected to more than double by 2030.

Strokes are affecting younger people world wide, and that's no exception here at home.

According to experts, almost 85,000 people 20 and younger suffer a stroke each year and those under 50 account for 20 percent.

Dr. Anthony Kitchen, emergency medical director at Camden Clark Medical Center, says local stroke patients are definitely younger than they were a decade ago.

"The patient is getting younger and younger that can suffer from strokes. Many people may think that people with stroke are just the elderly, but that's not true anymore," he says. "Not certain why that is -- perhaps there are more folks that have untreated hypertension or high cholesterol."

Dr. Kitchen says because other things can mimic stroke, such as migraine headaches and Bell's Palsy, often younger people mistake it for something else.

If you're having any symptoms that concern you, the doctor says to go to the emergency room to get checked out.

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