Young people should worry about stroke because it’s starting to kill more of them. Recent studies showed that there is an increase in the rate of strokes in younger people—those aged 55 and below. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more people in their 30s and 40s suffer from stroke. The Journal of American Medical Association also published study results that showed those who suffered strokes at a younger age are more likely to die young. One in five survivors of stroke at a young age dies within 20 years and those who had a blood clot in the brain experience a higher death rate.
The common misconception about strokes is that it only affects older people. It’s no longer true. While the risk of stroke is double for those aged 60 and above, the number of younger individuals suffering from it is alarming. And most of them have no idea that they’re at risk of stroke until it’s too late.
Risk Factors for Stroke at a Young Age
Younger people are at risk mainly because of their lifestyle: smoking, alcohol consumption, and unhealthy eating. These result to higher cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, increased risks for obesity, and diabetes. Women who take birth control pills are more prone to strokes.
What’s alarming is that most people dismiss the symptoms of stroke and don’t get the necessary treatment. The permanent effects of stroke can be avoided by getting treated within the first few hours from the time the symptoms show. But because most patients mistake them for another condition or get misdiagnosed, they don’t receive proper treatment.
Several reported incidences of stroke in young adults show a pattern: symptoms were misdiagnosed and it wasn’t until things were too late when they realize they suffered a stroke. It’s common for young people to dismiss symptoms like severe headaches, dizziness, and loss of balance as trivial and wait until they go away because they wouldn’t think they’re at risk. This is what can kill them because there’s a tiny window of opportunity to administer the right medication (tPA) to cure the blood clot and prevent lifelong impairment.
Misdiagnosis is also a serious problem. Because these symptoms can be manifestations of other health conditions, even physicians can make a wrong call and send a patient home without running proper tests. According to a study conducted at the Wayne University-Detroit Medical Center Stroke Program, one out of seven (in 57 young stroke victims) is misdiagnosed. Because they don’t get the proper treatment, the effects are irreversible.
The lead proponent of the Wayne University study, Dr. Seemant Chaturvedi, says that only 20 to 30 percent of patients go to the hospital within the first 3 hours when the symptoms show up. Majority would wait until they disappear and then admit themselves after many hours have elapsed. By that time, stroke effects, like paralysis, could be hard to treat.
Preventive Healthcare Can Save You
If there’s anything these studies prove, it’s that preventive health care is important—for both stroke survivors and those who haven’t suffered from it yet. Always check your blood pressure, keep cholesterol levels in check, get your eyes checked regularly, and avoid unhealthy habits that increase the risk for stroke. Buy Plavix; it can prevent blood clot for those who’ve already suffered heart attacks or stroke. Proper weight management is also important in reducing the risks for stroke.
[box type=”info”]Unless you want to become a statistic, be resilient. When you experience any of the symptoms, go to the hospital immediately and request for an MRI to determine if you had a stroke or not. Be stern and insist on this even when doctors tell you you’re okay. When your life is on the line, it’s best to err on the side of caution.[/box]