Despite the common belief that strokesonly happen in people over the age of 65, this isn’t at all the case. In fact, in the midst of declining stroke numbers, one statistic continues to grow—the number of strokes in people between the ages 18 – 34. While the jury is still out on what the cause of this surprising trend is, experts agree that the following risk factorsare likely major contributors.
High Blood Pressure: Hypertensionis one of the biggest risk factors for stroke, and that goes for all age groups. It can cause the blood vessels to weaken and increase your chance of developing blood clots in the brain.
This risk factor is especially significant for younger age groups because many of them are entirely unaware that they have developed the condition. Ignorance is bliss—right? Well, not in this case. Remember, it’s important to have your blood pressure routinely checked, regardless of age.
Smoking: With over 4,000 chemicals in each cigarette, it’s no wonder smoking increases the risk of developing several serious health problems, including stroke. When cigarette smoke is inhaled, the carcinogenic chemicals are transferred into the blood where they damage blood vessels and affect platelet production, increasing your chance of developing a blood clot.
While the number of smokers has decreased overall, data from the CDC indicates that younger age groups are the exception to this decline. If you are having trouble kicking the habit, talk to your doctor, or utilize smoking cessation programs.
Drug & Alcohol Use: While studies indicate that one drink per day may actually decrease your risk of stroke, when you get to two or more drinks per day, it has the opposite effect. It actually increases your stroke risk significantly.
Birth Control: Women who take birth control pills are nearly twice as likely to experience a stroke as those who don’t. This risk increases exponentially when combined with other factors, such as migraines and high blood pressure. This is likely due to the hormonal changes brought on by synthetic estrogen.
Pregnancy: Stroke during pregnancy is a leading cause of maternal death. This is due to the potential complications women face while pregnant, such as preeclampsia, amniotic fluid embolus, postpartum cerebral angiopathy and postpartum cardiomyopathy.
Migraines: More than 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, more than 70% of which are women. A particular type of migraine, migraine with aura, is most commonly associated with stroke. This type of migraine can increase your risk to nearly triple when compared to women who do not experience migraines at all.
Are you at risk of suffering a stroke?
The good news for millennials who may experience one or more of the risk-factors listed above is that the overall chance of stroke is still relatively low for the 18 – 34 age group. Younger victims of stroke also tend to have less long-term damage than their older counterparts. It’s crucial, though, that anyone who suffers a stroke takes the proper preventative measures so they do not fall victim again.
At Gwinnett Medical Center’s Emergency Department, the Stroke Alert process begins with placing you in a dedicated stroke unit, with customized care provided by a team of stroke experts. If you are eligible, specialists will provide you with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which is the only FDA-approved clot-busting medicine.
Even after you receive care for a stroke, GMC is still dedicated to ensuring the best health outcome possible; this includes personalized rehabilitationservices at GMC’s Glancy Rehabilitation Center. With private rooms, a 4,000-square-foot rehabilitation gym and on-site physicians, you will receive customized care at every stop of healing process.