Strokes are affecting more young people

human brainBY AMBER SMITH

A growing number of young people are at risk for stroke today because so many people age 20 to 55 have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or obesity.

These diseases increase any person’s risk for stroke, no matter their age. Having more than one amplifies the risk.

Most of the strokes that occur in younger people are ischemic, in which a blood clot settles in an artery in the brain, blocking blood flow, says Gene Latorre, MD, a neurologist who oversees Upstate’s stroke service. Some happen because of an irregular heart rhythm, but most develop from a buildup of plaque in the arteries of the neck.

What can you do to protect yourself?

1. Recognize the risk.

“The first thing to realize is, you are equally vulnerable,” says Latorre.

2. Act.

Get your diabetes under control. Get treated for high cholesterol. Monitor your blood pressure.

Some primary care doctors are not quick to treat a young person whose blood pressure is high in the doctor’s office. So, check your blood pressure regularly, perhaps at a pharmacy. If it runs high, alert your doctor. Latorre explains, “the earlier you diagnose hypertension, the earlier you can control it.”

He says young people who have strokes typically recover more quickly – and more completely – than older people.

But prevention is still preferred.

Upstate Health Fall 2017 coverThis article appears in the fall 2017 issue of Upstate Health magazine.

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