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Heart disease and stroke are intrinsically intertwined. Both conditions share many of the same risk factors--smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, stress, high blood pressure, obesity, and lack of exercise--so it’s only logical that where one condition is found, the other often follows. The presence of one of these conditions naturally increases the risk of the other. Stroke is currently the number three killer (heart disease is number one) in the United States. Most people think stroke is a condition that affects only older persons. However, recent research points to a disturbing trend regarding the rate of acute ischemic strokes in younger Americans.
Strokes come in two different flavors – hemorrhagic and ischemic. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused when one of the major arteries in the brain ruptures and causes bleeding in the brain. Unlike hemorrhagic strokes, persons with ischemic strokes suffer no rupture or bleeding in the brain. Ischemic strokes are the result of a lack of adequate blood supply to the brain, which is generally caused when the arteries in the brain become blocked.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of ischemic strokes in younger adults and children has experienced a significant increase in recent years. Their findings indicate the following increases:
Ages 5 – 14 years
Boys: 31 percent increase
Girls: 36 percent increase
Ages 15 – 34 years
Men: 51 percent increase
Women: 17 percent increase
Ages 35 – 44 (younger middle-aged)
Men: 47 percent increase
Women: 36 percent increase
Needless to say, these results are extremely disturbing. CDC researchers speculated that the increase of hypertension as well as obesity, may be contributing factors to the increase in ischemic stroke in younger persons.
Because stroke is considered by many to be a condition that strikes only older Americans, it’s important to know that symptoms and take action if you suspect that you or someone you know may be having a stroke. Symptoms generally come on very suddenly. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of a stroke include the following: