Sixty percent of stroke patients had high cholesterol, 44 percent smoked and 39 percent had hypertension, the researchers found.
"It was commonly understood that people who have strokes when they're young have a different set of causes than people when they're older," said Dr. Roger Bonomo, director of stroke care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "This is identifying a trend toward [risk factors] becoming more like older people in men in their 40s."
But, Bonomo cautioned, the new study was done with a specific population in Finland, and the findings may not pertain so closely to other groups of people.
A second study in the same issue of the journal found that feeling sleepy during the day appears to increase the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease among healthy older people.
Some 10 percent to 30 percent of older adults report having daytime sleepiness, according to the French researchers who did the study.
Among a group of more than 9,000 people aged 65 or over, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) was linked with a 33 percent increased risk of dying. Both loud snorers and non-snorers with EDS had an increased risk in mortality. There was no link between excessive daytime sleepiness and dying of cancer.
"This is important, because I think the general physician doesn't always take [EDS] into account," said Dr. John Erwin III, associate professor of internal medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a senior staff cardiologist with Scott & White Hospital in Temple.
"We're taught in medical school that the need for sleep becomes less as people age. The science over the last few years is pointing us away from that, and we see quite a few patients in clinic that complain of this. This probably underscores the need to be more
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