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Stroke Rate Rising Among Younger People

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Apr/30/2010

SARASOTA (April 29, 2010) – Often considered a disease of the elderly, strokes are now striking adults at much younger ages.

New research finds that in little over a decade the percentage of people age 20-45 having strokes has jumped from 4.5 percent of the population to 7.3. In Caucasians age 45-54, the annual incidence of stroke increased from 74 per 100,000 in 1993-94 to 96 per 100,000 in 2005; among African-Americans in that age group, strokes increased from 225 per 100,000 to 302.

High blood pressure remains the #1 risk factor for stroke, regardless of age. Researchers also attribute the rising incidence of stroke in younger people to a corresponding increase in a related trio of ills among younger adults: obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.

"Stroke is a life-changing, devastating disease, and this trend should serve as a wake-up call for us all,” said Mauricio Concha, MD, stroke neurologist and medical director of Sarasota Memorial’s Stroke Program. “As physicians, we need to look for these potent risk factors even in younger people, and younger people need to take a more active role in their health care and be more vigilant about scheduling regular check-ups."

The findings were presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in San Antonio earlier this year. On a more positive note, the findings showed the incidence of stroke has decreased in people over 70, which experts attribute to better education and prevention in that age group.

No matter what your age, the key to recovery from stroke is recognizing the symptoms early and seeking immediate emergency treatment, Dr. Concha said. Nearly two million brain cells die every minute following a stroke, so the sooner treatment begins, he said, the more likely you are to protect yourself from serious disability. Treatment in the first 2-3 hours of a stroke offers the greatest protection against disability.

About Sarasota Memorial’s Comprehensive Stroke Center
Every second counts when you're having a stroke … and so does the hospital that treats you. While most patients can benefit from a clot-dissolving therapy (tPA) administered in many ERs, it must be given within three hours of the onset of stroke.

If you miss that important window of treatment, more advanced treatments are available at Sarasota Memorial – Southwest Florida’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center. Sarasota Memorial’s advanced technologies and specialists provide intra-arterial and endovascular techniques – not available at many other hospitals – to extract blood clots in the brain and repair cerebrovascular abnormalities when standard therapies are not effective or no longer safe to use.

Prevention is the best medicine.
Sarasota Memorial offers a variety of free education and prevention programs to help reduce your risk of stroke, including free screenings, diabetes education and nutrition/lifestyle coaching. For upcoming events, visit smh.com (community calendar).

Learn the Signs & Symptoms by thinking FAST
Call 911 immediately if you suddenly experience any of these symptoms:

F - Facial numbness or weakness
A - Arm numbness or weakness
S - Slurred speech/scrambled thoughts
T - Time is brain - call 911 immediately

To learn more about preventing and treating stroke, visit smh.com/stroke or call 917-7777 for a free Think Stroke, Think FAST magnet.

Date Published: April 30, 2010

Media Contact: Kim Savage
Phone: (941) 917-6271

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