Stroke victims are getting younger compared to previous years
12th October 2012
Health experts have warned that the age of people suffering from a stroke is worryingly low, and that the number of young adults being struck down with them is increasing. In fact, one in five victims is under the age of 55 according to research in the American Academy of Neurology Journal. In the same report, it was stated that the average age of someone suffering a stroke has dropped from 71 years in 1993 to 69 years in 2005. The study centred on 5,900 Ohio and Kentucky adults who had suffered a first-time stroke between the years 1993 and 2005. It was found that over this time period, 20 to 54-year-olds accounted for an increasing proportion of strokes. In what had started at 13% in 1993 had risen to almost 19% in 2005. To delve a little deeper – during the twelve years, whites aged 20 to 54 saw a rate increase from 26 strokes for every 100,000 people, to 48 per 100,000. A similar trend was noted among African Americans. In the same time period, the rate had gone up from 83 to 128 per 100,000 people. Study author Dr Brett Kissela, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, offered his thoughts on what could be causing the increases. He said, “The reasons for this trend could be a rise in risk factors such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol. Other factors, such as improved diagnosis through the increased use of MRI imaging may also be contributing. Regardless, the rising trend found in our study is of great concern for public health because strokes in younger people translate to greater lifetime disability.” Dr Kissela did suggest things that could be done to reverse the findings from the study though. He continued, “The good news is that some of the possible contributing factors to these strokes can be modified with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. However, given the increase in stroke among those younger than 55, younger adults should see a doctor regularly to monitor their overall health and risk for stroke and heart disease.” A spokesman for the Stroke Association, linked the results from the U.S study to stroke patterns in the UK, saying, “Although this research was carried out in the US, western cultures lead very similar lifestyles and in other research parallels have often been drawn between the US and the UK. For these reasons it’s likely that the UK could face similar outcomes. However, a UK specific study hasn’t been carried out yet.” Strokes are the single biggest reason for adult disability within the UK due to the brain damage that is inflicted, with over 150,000 occurring every year in England alone. In addition, strokes are the third largest cause of death after heart disease and cancer. However, what are they and who is at risk? A stroke happens when the blood supply to a certain area of the brain is suddenly stopped. Brain cells always require a constant source of oxygen inside the blood so therefore after the supply is cut off, the cells in the affected area either die or become damaged. There are two main types of stroke – ischaemic and haemorrhagic. The former kind of stroke accounts for a staggering 80% of all cases of stroke. It happens when the flow of blood to your brain is stopped by a blood clot or clump of fat. You are at risk of developing a blood clot if your arteries have narrowed and clogged with fatty deposits; known as atherosclerosis. Major risk factors for atherosclerosis include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and a family history of heart disease or stroke. A haemorrhagic type of stroke is brought on due a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain rupturing and resulting in bleeding into the surrounding brain and brain damage. Two types of weakened blood vessels will typically cause a haemorrhagic stroke: aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). So what can you do to limit your chances of suffering from a stroke? As Mentioned earlier, smoking is a major cause so therefore quitting smoking immediately would be advisable through the help of smoking cessation medication such as Champix. Following an online consultation and the approval from one of our GMC registered in-house Doctors; you can obtain the effective smoking cessation medication Champix from Medical Specialists Pharmacy, costing just £75.00 per pack. Medical Specialists also provides online consultations for patients with high cholesterol, a major contributor for strokes. For suitable patients our house doctors can prescribe statin medication (Lipitor and Crestor), and our in house pharmacists can dispense to patients within 24 hours. We also dispense statins for patients who can provide a private prescription, and have recently introduced the legally available generic Atorvastatin at much lower prices for suitable patients. The World Health Organisation has estimated that nearly 20% of all strokes and over 50% of all heart attacks can be attributed to high cholesterol so clearly the dangers of this are quite apparent.