WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Older Americans are
suffering fewer strokes, but new government research shows that
stroke hospitalizations are sharply rising among children and
younger adults, especially for men under 35.
Although the study doesn't explore the reasons for the trend,
experts point to the obesity epidemic, increasing rates of diabetes
and high blood pressure as likely culprits.
Recreational drugs may play a role as well, they added.
"Young people should see their doctor for regular checkups," said Dr. Brett Kissela, a professor of neurology at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute, who has conducted previous research on strokes but was not involved with this study. Routine check-ups can help control risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, he explained.
Dr. Mary George, a researcher with the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, is scheduled to report the findings
Wednesday at the International Stroke Conference in Los
Experts note that research presented at meetings typically has
not been subjected to the same scrutiny as studies published in
peer-reviewed medical journals.
For the study, CDC researchers examined hospitalization data for
the period from 1994 to 2007 from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample,
identifying patients with a primary diagnosis of ischemic stroke.
Ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood clot or clogged artery
blocks the blood supply to the brain, is more common than
hemorrhagic stroke, the result of a ruptured blood vessel.
The increases and decreases in stroke rates varied by gender and
age group, the researchers found.
Among males aged 15 to 34, the rate surged by nearly 51 percent.
Among females in that age group, it increased 17 percent. Strokes
soared 31 percent in boys aged 5 to 14 and 36 percent in girls of
the same age.
Men between 35 and 44 years old had a 47 percent increase in
stroke incidence. For women in that age range, stroke incidence
rose 36 percent.
For older adults, the news was better. Stroke rates declined 12
percent in men 45 to 64 years old and 13 percent in women in that
age range. The rates went down even further for 65-plus men and
women: 25 percent in men and 28 percent in women.
"This study doesn't really address what is underlying these trends, and that needs to be looked at," George said. However, she said more awareness, and better detection, of strokes on the part of doctors may help explain the escalation in some age groups.
The findings echo those presented at last year's conference by
Kissela. His research found that the average age of a stroke
patient decreased by nearly three years between 1993-1994 and 2005.
He also found stroke on the rise among young adults.
His study was regional, looking at residents of Ohio and
Kentucky, while the CDC study was national in scope. "It is
confirming what we are seeing locally," he said of the latest
His study did not examine reasons for the trend either, but he
speculated that the unhealthy eating habits and sedentary
lifestyles that cause obesity and diabetes may be fueling strokes
among younger people. Use of illegal drugs such as cocaine may also
contribute to the upswing, he said.
To learn more about stroke, visit the
American Stroke Association.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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