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Strokes Up Among the Young, Down Among the Old
Date:2/24/2010

Obesity, hypertension and diabetes are to blame, expert says,,,,

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of stroke seems to be falling among the old. That's the good news.

The bad news, though, is that strokes appear to be occurring more often among the young, a group that has not been considered at high risk for the debilitating and deadly condition, caused by a blood clot or bleeding in the brain.

Even as doctors are getting a handle on the problem among seniors, the proportion of strokes that occurred among those ages 20 to 45 rose from 4.5 percent in 1993-94 to 7.3 percent in 2005, according to new data. Researchers found that the average age of stroke patients also dropped by about three years, from 71.3 years old in 1993-94 to 68.4 in 2005.

Brett Kissela, associate professor and vice-chairman of education and clinical services at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute, called the findings "scary and very concerning."

"Strokes are not that common among young people, but it's more common than it was in the past, which is a disturbing trend," said Kissela, lead author of the study, which is scheduled to be presented Wednesday at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in San Antonio.

Kissela said he launched the study after encountering a run of patients in their 50s who'd had strokes. He and his colleagues examined data from five counties in the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky region, which includes about 1.3 million people.

Among blacks, the incidence of stroke was found to drop among those older than 85, and it decreased significantly at age 65 among whites. Some of the decline could be a result of better blood pressure and diabetes control, Kissela said.

Among younger people, experts believe, the reason for the rise in strokes is probably a higher incidence of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

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