Stroke in Young People
Strokes were thought of as an older person problem but adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly suffering from stokes.
Stroke in young people is on the rise
An increasing number of young people, in their 20s, 30s and 40s, particularly in higher income countries are suffering from stokes.
Whilst younger people may be in the prime of their lives, this doesn't unfortunately guarantee protection from a stroke.
Why do young people have strokes?
There are several factors which can increase the risk of having a stroke as a young person which are the same as those in older people. These include:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Excessive alcohol intake
There are also some lifestyle factors which may increase the risk of younger people suffering a stroke such as excessive alcohol consumption, low physical activity levels and smoking.
What are the warning signs?
No matter what age the warning signs of a stroke are the same and its important to remember the acronym BE FAST:
B - balance - a sudden loss of balance
E - eyes - sudden changes in vision in one or both eyes
F - face - sudden weakness on one side of the face
A - arm - sudden weakness in one arm or leg
S - speech -- sudden loss or slurring of speech
T - time - call the emergency services if one or more of these symptoms arises. Don't wait to get help - no matter what ages you are.
Whilst every patient is different the recovery of young people who suffer a stroke is generally better than those who are older. This might be linked to the younger brain's plasticity and ability to use alternative, undamaged pathways to take over the function of damaged areas of the brain. It is important to note that there are many factors which impact recovery from a stroke including the extent of the damage to the brain, the time delay between the stroke and intervention and treatment, how the brain was affected and the health of the individual prior to the stroke.
Reducing the risk
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of stoke is to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy, balanced diet. Quitting unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive drinking and recreational drug use will also help.
That said, some patients do have predisposing conditions such a left atrial appendage which can increase their risk so it is also important to have a heart check and speak to your GP and/or cardiologist about this.
Keeping your heart healthy involves maintaining an active lifestyle and identifying any potentially dangerous heart problems before they become more severe.