The Average Stroke Patient is Getting Younger

Neurons damaged during a strokeAccording to a recent clinical study, the average age of stroke patients in the United States has been getting younger and younger since the 1990’s. In fact, medical researchers reported in 2005 that stroke patients between the ages 20 and 54 made up nearly 20% of all cases. This was a significant increase from number of strokes that was reported in this age group back in 1993 and 1994.

In a relatively small amount of time, the average age at which strokes are now occurring in Americans has dropped by a significant amount, and all evidence suggests that things could continue to get worse. According to the latest clinical research on strokes, the average age of incidence has decreased from 71 years old in the mid-1990’s to about 69 in just 10 years.

A Significant Change from the 90’s

Dr. Brett Kissela, the lead author of this clinical study, has said that while this may not seem like a big difference, this is indeed a significant change in the time given. While most middle age people probably feel confident that they are not in any danger of stroke at their age, this latest study has provided some serious evidence to the contrary. Frankly, this age group isn’t as healthy as they used to be.

Representatives from the American Stroke Association, one of the major organizations providing further education on the risks for stroke and hypertension, have stated how strokes are one of the primary causes of disability in the United States. In fact, they are now the fourth leading cause of death in the country.

Incidence of Stroke across Three Time Periods

During this latest clinical study, the team wanted to get a sense of how the incidence of stroke had been trending in the country. In order to do this, they examined data on first-time stroke patients who were living in the greater Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati area (this is more than one million men and women).

After comparing data taken from three time periods, the research team found that strokes among young and middle-aged adults were now accounting for a much larger portion than they had ever done in the past. Even more unsettling, this new trend seemed to be occurring in younger people across the board, regardless of race.

What is causing this Difference?

So, what could be the reason for this significant increase in the incidence of strokes amongst younger adults? One possible theory offered up was that advancements in the use of MRI screening technology could now be identifying more strokes among middle-aged patients that would have been missed in the past.

Dr. Kissela for one was not as surprised to see an increase in the number of strokes at a younger age. Currently, the rate of obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol has been on the rise for people who are in this age range. High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the leading risk factors for stroke, and that coupled with high cholesterol is a verifiable recipe for disaster.

Other Medical Conditions that need to be addressed

Moving forward, Dr. Kissela has suggested that adults in this age range should start to consider going to the doctor on a more regular basis. If they are at risk for high blood pressure, then they should be getting their levels checked, so they can keep their health in better check.

According to the American Heart Association, this latest study has lent further support for the need to address a number of other related medical conditions. This country is facing a serious issue from the rise in obesity and diabetes, and the average adult in the U.S. is not getting enough exercise. Until there are more improvements made in these areas, we will continue to see an increase in such medical complications as high blood pressure and stroke.