According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Eighty-seven percent of strokes are called ischemic strokes, where clots or plaque block blood flow to the brain.
Earlier studies found that stroke in teens and young adults accounted for 5 percent to 10 percent of all strokes, and that it is one of the top 10 causes of childhood death.
Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke University Stroke Center, commented that "the data presented in this study raises an alarm."
Traditionally, strokes in the very young have usually been caused by different factors than those in older people, he noted.
For adults, "advancing age is a major stroke risk factor, with rates approximately doubling for every decade over age 55 years," he said. "Although about a third of strokes occur in persons under age 65, rates in children and young adults tend to be quite low."
But, he warned, the study suggests that "there appears to be increasing rates of traditional stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, lipid disorders, tobacco use and alcohol abuse in the young who had increasing rates of hospitalizations for stroke," he said.
Although these data can not prove that such changes have caused the increase in stroke hospitalizations among young people, "it is becoming increasingly important to identify young persons who have risk factors that can be addressed with the goal of lowering their future chances of having a stroke," Goldstein said.
Another expert, Dr. Michael Katsnelson, an assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that "the prevalence of risk factors for stroke seem to be
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