Analysis Finds Surge in Strokes Among the Young

More adults below the age of 45, and even children, are being hospitalized for the most common kind of stroke.

According to a new study by analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that increase in acute ischemic strokes among the young comes as stroke-related hospitalizations among men and women 45 and older — the group most at risk — declined.

Although the research did not explore the reasons for the surging numbers of such strokes among the relatively young, experts pointed to increasing obesity and hypertension as likely causes.

The study, presented this week at the American Stroke Conference in Los Angeles, showed increases since 1994 of 51 percent among males, and 17 percent among females, in the 15-to-34 age category. In the 35-to-44 category, the rise was 47 percent for men and 36 for women.

Stroke rates among children are still low overall, but there was a 31 percent increase in boys ages 5 to 14, and a 36 percent increase among girls in the same age group.

The figures for men and women in the 45-and-up age group fell  25 and 29 percent, respectively.

Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery is blocked, preventing the flow of blood to the brain. “We cannot link anything in particular to the trend in younger patients, but I believe the role of obesity and hypertension will prompt a big discussion,” Xin Tong, a CDC health statistician and co-author of the study, said in a news release.

The New York Times reported that the results could, in part, reflect record-keeping changes. “Better awareness about stroke risk in young people, more referrals of young patients to stroke neurologists and improved diagnostic ability using scanning technology could also be fueling the rise in younger age groups.,” the Times added.

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