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Stroke Before Age 50 Linked to Raised Risk of Early Death

TUESDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who suffer a stroke before age 50 are more likely to die over the following 20 years than those who did not have a stroke, a new study finds.

"Approximately 10 percent of strokes occur in patients under 50 years old, and the incidence of stroke in this age group has been on the rise in the United States and worldwide," noted Dr. Feliks Koyfman, director of the Neurovascular Laboratory at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. He was not involved in the new study.

The research included more than 1,600 adults younger than 50 who suffered a stroke or a "mini-stroke" between January 1980 and November 2010.

The survival status of 959 of the patients was assessed as of November 2012. At that time, 192 (20 percent) of the patients had died, according to the study in the March 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers found that the risk of death over 20 years of follow-up was about 25 percent for patients with mini-strokes, about 27 percent for patients whose strokes were caused by a blockage in a vessel, and about 14 percent for patients with bleeding, or "hemorrhagic," strokes.

These death rates are higher than in the general population, which suggests "that the underlying (vascular) disease that caused the stroke at relatively young age continues to put these patients at an increased risk for vascular disease throughout their lives," according to a team led by Loes Rutten-Jacobs, of Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

"Risk factors indicated in the study group, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, seem likely to confer risk as well," the researchers added.

According to Koyfman, people who've had a stroke while young can minimize their risk by lowering their risk factors "with both medication and lifestyle changes, such as healthier eating habits, exercise, and abstaining from smoking and alcohol."

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about stroke.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCES: Feliks Koyfman, M.D., director, Neurovascular Laboratory, Winthrop-University Hospital, Mineola, N.Y.; Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, March 19, 2013

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