Are you moving past youth and into that age category where older is wiser but riskier due to potential health issues? Or maybe it’s your parents who are rushing ahead to the senior lifestyle they’ve worked so hard to accomplish. Either way, you’ve probably been warned about the increasing risk of stroke in adults over 55.
It’s also true, though, that even if you’re still solidly in that 21-54 age range on all those popular internet surveys, you may be at risk of developing a life-threatening stroke. And the odds of that happening are on the rise.
At the Vein, Heart, and Vascular Institute, we’re dedicated to providing outstanding health care to the residents of our Florida communities. That includes keeping you informed about the rising trend of strokes in 50-something adults and how you can help lower your risk factors.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to your brain is suddenly interrupted. There are two main categories of stroke, each of which requires emergency medical attention:
Ischemic stroke is the most common type and is a result of a blockage, typically caused by a clot in the arteries that supply your brain with a constant blood supply. Although it only takes up about 2% of your total body mass, your brain requires 15-20% of your heart’s output every minute to function normally.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or bursts and bleeds into surrounding brain tissue. High blood pressure is one of the causes of hemorrhagic stroke.
One type of ischemic stroke, TIA (transient ischemic attack) or “mini-stroke,” is often a warning that you may be at risk for a major stroke soon. TIAs are different than major strokes because they last less than five minutes.
Importantly, however, a TIA requires immediate medical care. There’s really no way to determine at the onset of symptoms whether you’re having a TIA or major stroke.
You’re never too young for a stroke
Although strokes are more common in individuals over 60, about 10% of stroke victims are under age 50. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every year 610,000 people in the United States have their first stroke.
Several risk factors increase your odds of having a stroke, regardless of your age. These include:
- Congenital heart defects
- Sickle cell disease
- Blood clotting disorders
- Metabolic conditions that lead to hypertension and/or abnormal cholesterol levels
If you have sickle cell disease, for instance, you’re 200 times more likely to have a stroke than those who don’t have sickle cell.
A 2017 study published in JAMA Neurology also noted the link between stroke in 50-something and younger people with an increasing prevalence of conditions known to increase stroke risk. These conditions include:
- Lipid disorders
Younger people are also less likely to have routine blood pressure checks and screening labs, so are often unaware that these conditions are affecting their health and stroke risk.
You can do a lot to lower your risks of developing a stroke, including:
- Stick with a healthy diet
- Lose excess weight
- Exercise regularly
- Stop smoking
Abnormal findings on routine blood pressure checks and periodic blood sugar checks to screen for hypertension and diabetes can also alert you that your stroke risk may be increasing.
Dr. Hesham Fakhri at the Vein, Heart and Vascular Institute is a stroke prevention specialist who is also available to evaluate your risks and create a personalized plan that can help prevent a stroke from disrupting your life.
Schedule a visit today by calling one of our offices in Tampa or Wesley Chapel, Florida, or requesting an appointment online.