Stroke: Not just a senior health issue

couple on bed with laptopMany people think of stroke as a health problem reserved for the older crowd. But a new study in The Lancet points to an upward trend among those ages 20 to 64. In fact, the number of strokes among these young and middle-age people rose 25 percent from 1990 to 2010, from 25 percent of all strokes to 31 percent of all strokes. When those up to age 74 were included, they accounted for 62 percent of new strokes, 45 percent of deaths and 72 percent of illness and disability.

Overall, hemorrhagic strokes, or strokes caused by bleeding, are far less common than ischemic strokes (those caused by interrupted blood flow to the brain); however, this type of stroke is more common in those younger than 75. Researchers see the upward trend likely to continue and urge preventive measures to be taken—for example, working to reduce sodium, calorie, alcohol and tobacco consumption and better identification of those at high risk of stroke. The Lancet study used global data; in general, middle- and low-income countries fared worse than high-income countries.

Learn more about strokes, their symptoms and treatments in our Health Encyclopedia.