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Men's Stroke Risk Rises Dramatically in Mid-40s
Date:2/26/2009

And the contributing factors are often those seen in older patients, study finds

THURSDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The odds of having a stroke seem to spike up when men reach their mid-40s.

And the risks associated with stroke even at this earlier age are startlingly similar to the risk factors seen in older patients, a new study found.

"Silent strokes" -- which have no obvious symptoms but can cause residual damage -- are also common in this younger group of men, researchers reported Feb. 26 in the journal Stroke.

"The risk factors are most of the ones we start thinking about in older people -- mostly cholesterol, but also smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes. So that's something we need to start looking at, at a younger age," said Dr. Michael Palm, assistant professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics and internal medicine at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.

"If we wait till 50, many of these risk factors are already fairly well established and causing problems," he said.

Since many of these risk factors are modifiable, "there is a need for developing aggressive primary prevention strategies," added Dr. Jukka Putaala, lead author of the new study. "The optimal target group for primary prevention interventions [especially among men] could perhaps be 35 to 44 years."

The phenomenon of silent strokes in younger men also needs to be explored, Putaala said, because such "subclinical" strokes are associated with a high risk of later strokes as well as cognitive decline in older people.

Putaala and colleagues at Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland evaluated more than 1,000 patients aged 15 to 49 who had been admitted to the hospital between 1994 and 2007 with an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blocked blood vessel.

As expected, the occurrence of stroke increased dramatically with age. Females we
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