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Stroke May Be Striking at a Younger Age
Date:9/2/2009

Almost half of cases occur before 65, study finds, many younger patients not getting rehab,,

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Stroke could be affecting Americans earlier in life than ever before, a new study suggests.

"Stroke is no longer an affliction of old age," said lead researcher Timothy J. Wolf, an instructor of occupational therapy and neurology and investigator for the Cognitive Rehabilitation Research Group at Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis. "People in the working ages of life are having strokes with greater regularity than ever before."

Reporting in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, the team also found that while more people under the age of 65 are suffering strokes, rehabilitation is often not offered to younger people with mild stroke.

Wolf and his colleagues gathered data on 7,740 people treated for stroke at a St. Louis hospital between 1999 and 2008. They found that 45 percent were under 65 and 27 percent were under the age of 55. This differs drastically from data from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which states that 66 percent of all strokes occur in people over 65, the researchers noted.

Most of the strokes among those under 65 were mild. "These individuals typically do not have outward signs of impairment and therefore are discharged with little or no rehabilitation," Wolf noted. "What we now know though, from following up with this group of people, is that they are having trouble reintegrating back into complex activities of everyday life such as employment," he said.

About 71 percent of patients who had a mild to moderate stroke were discharged directly home, discharged with home services only, or discharged with outpatient services only, the researchers found.

On follow-up, 46 percent of those with a mild stroke said they were working slower, 42 percent said they were not abl
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