ASA: Strokes May Be Affecting More Young People

Other studies from conference focus on time to primary stroke center, racial mortality disparities

THURSDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Strokes may be striking more people at younger ages, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association's 2010 International Stroke Conference, held from Feb. 23 to 26 in San Antonio.

Brett M. Kissela, M.D., of the University of Cincinnati, and colleagues compared first-ever hospitalized strokes that occurred in residents of a five-county region of Ohio and Kentucky during three year-long periods: mid-1993 to mid-1994, 1999, and 2005. The researchers found that the mean age at stroke occurrence was 71.3 years in the first period, which fell to 70.9 in 1999 and 68.4 in 2005. The proportion of strokes occurring in people under the age of 45 years increased from 4.5 percent in the first period to 5.5 percent in 1999 and 7.3 percent in 2005.

Other research presented during the conference illustrated that only about 55 percent of Americans can reach a primary stroke center within an hour by ambulance. Better use of medical helicopters could get 79 percent of stroke patients to these specialty centers within an hour. Also, compared to Caucasians, older African-American stroke patients show a 17-percent decreased likelihood of death at time points ranging from a week to a year. This difference may be due to more use of life-saving interventions.

The rising number of younger stroke patients is "scary and very concerning," Kissela said in a prepared statement. "As physicians, we need to look for these potent risk factors even in young people," referring to diabetes, hypertension and obesity. "Stroke is a life-changing, devastating disease. It can affect young people, and we hope these data will serve as a wake-up call."

Press Release - Kissela
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