Rise in U.S. Stroke Rates
Written by Faith Anderson on October 11, 2012
More Young Americans Suffering Strokes
Researchers discovered that the average age people experienced a stroke fell from 71 between 1993 and 1994, to age 69 during 2005. Upon closer examination, the report indicated that 13% of stroke victims during 1993-1994 were adults ages 20-54, but that number skyrocketed to 19% for that same age group during 2005. The study authors also found that the stroke rate in young adults increased in African-Americans from 83 strokes per 100,000 people between 1993 and 1994, to 128 strokes per 100,000 people in 2005. In Caucasians, the stroke rate increased from 26 strokes per 100,000 people between 1993 and 1994, to 48 per 100,000 in 2005.
Risk Factors for Stroke and Heart Disease
“The reasons for this trend could be a rise in risk factors such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol,” said study author Dr. Brett Kissela, professor of neurology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio. He also noted that an increase in the use of MRI machines in recent years has led to a better diagnosis of strokes. “Regardless, the rising trend found in our study is of great concern for public health,” Kissela said. One of the main issues associated with Americans suffering strokes at an earlier age is that they will face many more years of living with a disability in the future, warns Dr. Aviva Lubin, director of the stroke division at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Reducing Your Risk of Stroke
According to the researchers involved in the study, understanding and addressing potential risk factors for stroke – including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, heavy drinking and use of illicit drugs – could reduce the risk among young adults. “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,” said Kissela. “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.” Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, resulting in 137,000 deaths every year. According to the American Stroke Association, roughly 795,000 Americans will experience a new or recurrent stroke in 2012, which equals about one stroke every 40 seconds.