NPR features a profile of Troy Hodge, a 43-year-old resident of Carroll County, Md. Troy’s story is remarkable because he is one example of a troubling trend: Strokes are a growing risk for younger people. While the majority of strokes occur in older people, about 10 percent occur in people between 18 and 50 years old — but experts say that the incidence and prevalence of stroke among younger people are on the rise, and significantly so:
A national survey found that between 1995 and 2008, the increased number of young people (ages 15 to 44) who were hospitalized for stroke closely followed an increase in several chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and lipid disorders.
“People who are obese are at greater risk for high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is the leading risk factor for stroke,” says Dr. Mary George, senior medical officer with the CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and an author on the national study. In 1995, about 3 percent of patients between 15 and 34 years old who had ischemic strokes were obese. By 2007, 9 percent were obese.
Troy was fortunate to have gotten help quickly after his stroke – the importance of rapid response cannot be over-emphasized. Still, he has a difficult recovery ahead of him – his struggle is discussed in the story.
Risk factors for strokes include medical and personal factors that should be assessed with your physician. The National Stroke Association also points to a number of controllable risk factors that fall under the category of Lifestyle Risk Factors.
Some other experts weigh in on controlling your risks:
CDC: Preventing Stroke: Healthy Living
You can help prevent stroke by making healthy lifestyle choices. A healthy lifestyle includes the following:
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Getting enough exercise.
- Not smoking.
- Limiting alcohol use.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch: 8 things you can do to prevent a stroke
This article summarizes the following 8 steps you can take to limit risk, with more detailed recommendations for each:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lose weight
- Exercise more
- Drink—in moderation
- Take a baby aspirin
- Treat atrial fibrillation
- Treat diabetes
- Quit smoking
Other stroke resources:
- Stroke warning signs
- Warning Signs of heart attack, stroke & cardiac arrest
- Related: We talked about heart health on this blog recently, featuring tools and videos about heart health and blood pressure.