A recent report suggests that the rates of stroke are increasing among Canadian young adults faster than among older adults. How much? The risk of a stroke increases with age, which is why 80 percent of all strokes happen to those over 60.
But an increasing percentage of hospital admissions for stroke are occurring among patients between the ages of 20 and 59, the Heart & Stroke 2017 Stroke Report reveals. Dr.
Patrice Lindsay, a director with Heart & Stroke (formerly the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada), says there are a few reasons why strokes are up among younger adults, and much of it has to do with our lifestyles. “People in that age bracket are in a much more fast-paced lifestyle, with a lot more pressures at work to excel,” Lindsay told CTV News Channel. “We tend to work longer hours, take out fast food on the way home, and by the time of the night, we just don’t have time to exercise -- or we don’t make the time, which is the real issue. So we’re seeing higher blood pressure and more diabetes at a much younger age than we used to.” The key risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, obesity, high stress, and high cholesterol.
When those factors combine, even young adults can experience a stroke. “What we’re seeing in this report is people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are really seeing a significant increase in the number of strokes,” she said. “We’re talking about an 11 percent increase in a decade, which is quite substantial.” It’s not just a disease of the elderly anymore,” Lindsay said. “We all have to be aware of that because then we’ll recognize it faster and seek treatment faster. And then some of these after-effects won’t be as severe.” The key signs of a stroke can be broken down into the acronym FAST: Face drooping; Arms that cannot both be raised; Slurred or jumbled speech; Time to call 911. The key to stroke recovery is quick action since treatment needs to begin with a couple of hours of stroke onset. Heart & Stroke advises anyone who thinks someone they know is having a stroke to call 911 and not try to drive a patient directly to a hospital. The faster the signs are recognized, and the patient is diagnosed and treated, the greater likelihood of a good recovery and the lower the risk of another stroke. It is for this reason that everyone should be well versed in what to be on the lookout for.