Until recently, a stroke was thought of as an ailment that mainly affects older people. However, new research from Australia shows that stroke victims are getting younger.
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There are 50,000 strokes suffered by Australians each year. Also, you may be surprised to find that 20 percent of them are experienced by people who are younger than 55. You may be breathing a sigh of relief, thinking that surely that statistic doesn’t match up with statistics about strokes that occur in other parts of the world. But, keep in mind that the statistics about younger stroke sufferers lines up with another study that was conducted by the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Those scientists discovered that over the last 20 years, the number of people under age 65 around the world who have had strokes has risen by 25 percent. Put simply, 31 percent of the international population suffers strokes under the age of 65.
What’s The Reason For This Increase?
Health experts say that a person’s lifestyle is the primary reason why they may be at a higher risk of suffering a stroke. For example, an unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, smoking and obesity are several of the things that can cause a person to be at a higher risk of having a stroke. The good news is that three quarters of strokes can be avoided if people are aware they’re at risk and willing to do things to change that risk.
Types Of Strokes
There are two types of strokes. With both of them, brain damage can begin occurring very soon after the initial incident. That’s why it’s so important for people to receive emergency intervention if there is even a mild suspicion that they have had a stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke happens when one of the blood vessels in the brain has a leak or bursts. That issue causes bleeding in the brain or near the brain’s surface. Of the two types of strokes, this one is the most deadly.
People can also suffer ischemic strokes, which are the most likely to occur. Specifically, about eight of every 10 strokes are of the ischemic variety. They occur when a blood vessel in the brain gets blocked due to a blood clot.
It’s important to note that some people can also have what’s sometimes referred to as a transient ischemic attack. This ailment is not officially a stroke, but it’s a warning that a stroke may happen soon. When people get prompt treatment for a transient ischemic attack, there is a chance that a stroke can be prevented.
Symptoms Of Strokes
Symptoms of strokes can happen extremely quickly. A person may suddenly have trouble speaking, or have trouble walking and staying balanced. His or her vision may change quickly, too. A stroke sufferer may also experience a sudden headache that is very severe and different from headaches that person has had previously. If a person has sudden weakness, tingling or is unable to move one side of their body, that’s another common sign that a stroke has occurred. First responders sometimes ask the person to smile, and then notice that one side of their face does not move normally.
Diagnosis And Treatment
Giving the patient a CT scan is an important part of making a diagnosis, because it can determine whether there is bleeding in the brain. It may be necessary to do further testing to see if the person is actually suffering from another problem where the symptoms mimic those of a stroke.
When it becomes clear a person has suffered an ischemic stroke, the treatment team will focus on restoring blood flow to the brain. If the person gets to the hospital relatively quickly after an incident, they may be given medicine that breaks up blood clots. However, this works best when given within an hour and a half of the first stroke symptoms. When given in time, that medicine can improve overall recovery.
It’s more difficult to treat hemorrhagic strokes. Although medicine may be given to control swelling in the brain and a person’s blood pressure, physicians might opt to do surgery to halt the bleeding in the brain or release the pressure that has built up there.
If it turns out that you are at risk of having a stroke, making good lifestyle changes is essential for staying healthy and reducing the chances you’ll suffer a stroke sometime in your life.