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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Stroke in Younger Adults on the Rise?

Published October 15, 2012 1:25 PM by Brian Ferrie

The APTA issued a press release on Oct. 12 about a recent study published in the journal Neurology and conducted in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region. Researchers found that the rate of strokes among adults younger than 55 years of age increased from 12.9 percent in 1993/1994 to 18.6 percent in 2005.

Stroke incidence rates in people age 20 to 54 were significantly increased in both black and white patients in 2005 compared with earlier periods. The investigators also found that the mean age at stroke significantly decreased from 71.2 years in 1993/1994 to 69.2 years in 2005. Possible explanations for the increase could be that physicians are detecting strokes in young people more often, both as a result of better imaging technology and more vigilant screenings, according to a Reuters Health article about the study.

"But I really don't think that's the major reason," lead researcher Brett Kissela told Reuters. "We're definitely seeing a higher incidence of risk factors for stroke now."

With people developing obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure at a younger age, they also are increasing their risk of stroke at a younger age.

"This is of great public health significance because strokes in younger patients carry the potential for greater lifetime burden of disability and because some potential contributors identified for this trend are modifiable," the authors wrote.

It's certainly a topic of concern and was also the focus of a Sept. 17 ADVANCE cover story, "Brain Attack," which chronicled the experience of an otherwise fit and healthy 37-year-old woman in Massachusetts who unexpectedly sustained a stroke.

What are your thoughts on this study? Have you seen evidence of stroke striking younger adults in your practice?

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