Stroke Risk Rising for Young Adults

Stroke hospitalizations up 37% for adolscents

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) American adults have gotten heavier and a sizeable percentage don't live a healthy lifestyle. Young adults and teens seem to be following in those same footsteps.

The number of young adults and teenagers hospitalized for an ischemic stroke has increased 37 percent between 1995 and 2008, government researchers have found.

"Exercise and eat a healthy diet to lower your stroke risk."

Dr. Mary George, lead author of the study and a medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, said the national data accentuates the need for additional public health initiatives to cut the prevalence of stroke risk factors for adolescents and young adults.

The increase in stroke hospitalizations was attributed to a high rate of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, lipid disorders, and tobacco use among teens and young adults between the ages of 15 and 44.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Prior studies had suggested teenagers and young adults account for between 5 percent and 10 percent of all strokes.

CDC researchers examined hospital discharge data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project to identify patients who were hospitalized for ischemic stroke. They also analyzed the risk factors of those strokes and other health conditions patients may have had.

Among patients who suffered an ischemic stroke, a third of those between 15 and 34 years of age and more than half between the ages of 35 and 44 also had been diagnosed with hypertension. About 25 percent of patients between 35 and 44 years of age also had diabetes. More than 25 percent of all patients admitted they were tobacco users, and obesity and lipid disorders also were common.

In addition to monitoring and programs to educate about the risk factors, health effects and prevention of strokes, researchers also suggest eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and foods low in sodium and fat. They also should maintain a healthy weight, exercise, avoid smoking and control hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes.

The research was published in the Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and the Child Neurology Society.

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Review Date: 
September 7, 2011
Last Updated:
September 14, 2011