Stroke Rising Among Young People | 02/10/11

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More young people and adults in their 30s and 40s are being hospitalized for stroke, even as stroke rates are dropping in older people, new data show.

The findings, reported this week at the American Stroke Association conference in Dallas, may be a sign that that rising rates of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure among teenagers and young adults are taking a toll. Or it may simply be that physicians have improved their diagnosis and reporting of stroke in young people during the past decade.

Ischemic stroke occurs when a clot or narrowing of the arteries stifles the blood supply to the brain. Analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed the number of acute ischemic stroke hospitalizations by age and sex from 1994 to 2007. They found that stroke hospitalizations among men and women 45 and older have fallen by 25 and 29 percent, respectively.

But stroke hospitalizations rose sharply among men and women ages 15 to 44, including a 51-percent jump among 15- to 34-year-old men. There were also notable increases among children, though the number of strokes in children remains very small over all. The study found increases of more than 30 percent in boys and girls ages 5 to 14. Hospitalization for strokes declined, however, in girls younger than 5.

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