(CMR) Young people often make the mistake of thinking that some diseases can not affect them because of their age. Many persons believe only the elderly can get a stroke, but there is no such thing as being too young to have a stroke.
The causes of stroke in younger people tend to be different from the risk factors in people over 65. Kaitlin Sullivan, Everyday Health writer, explained that while it is true that your stroke risk increases with age, stroke in young people — even infants, children, and adolescents — does happen.
In fact, between 10 and 15 percent of strokes occur in people ages 18 to 50, according to a study published in February 2020 in the journal Stroke. In general, most experts consider a young stroke age to be under 45.
Even though the overall rate of stroke is decreasing, especially in people over age 65, it’s actually increasing among young and middle-aged people, Sullivan said.
According to Everyday Health, the factors that contribute to stroke in young people, which are typically different from what doctors see in older people who have a stroke, include the following:
Patent Foramen Ovale- About 1 in 4 people have small holes in the two atria of the heart, which are present at birth but typically not screened for, so most people don’t know they have it, says Dr. Russman.
Arterial Dissection Up to 25 percent of stroke in people under age 45 is caused by a dissecting blood vessel in the neck. This can be caused for several reasons, including whiplash or sports-related trauma. According to the Cleveland Clinic, symptoms of an arterial dissection can include the following:
- Neck and face pain, especially pain around the eyes
- Double vision or a droopy eyelid
- A sudden decrease in the sense of taste
Clotting Disorders Some conditions, including sickle cell disease, cause the blood to form clumps that can turn into clots and cause strokes in young people.
Substance Abuse Specifically, doing cocaine constricts blood vessels while increasing blood cells' clumping that causes clotting, which is how the drug contributes to stroke in young people. Refraining from drug use and heavy alcohol consumption will reduce your risk of having a stroke at any age.
Making significant lifestyle changes can help reduce the risks of getting a stroke. Obesity increases the risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. These are all important stroke risk factors at any age. Eating healthy, fresh, and unprocessed foods and not drinking sugary beverages is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Limiting your salt intake is also important. According to the CDC, 90 percent of American children eat too much salt, averaging an extra 1,000 milligrams (mg) more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 mg.
Cutting back on smoking cigarettes, even if you choose not to quit smoking altogether, can also lower your risk of stroke in young adulthood.
One of the big differences between stroke in older people and younger people is recovery. Stroke in young people can mean a lifetime of recovery and a loss of many productive years. However, a 30-year-old has a better rate of recovery than an 80-year-old because of better brain plasticity.