Stroke symptoms are on the rise in young and middle-aged Americans, according to a study presented on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011 in Los Angeles.
The nationwide study by government researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compared stroke hospitalization data from 1994 to 1995, with data for 2006 to 2007, and found a 50 percent increase in prevalence of strokes among those between ages 5 and 44.
Of six age categories, four showed an increase and two decreased. The biggest rise across the 14-year study period was a 53 percent jump in young men aged 15 to 34. Women of this age showed an increase of 17 percent.
Dr. Ralph Sacco, a neurologist at the University of Miami and president of the American Heart Association, said the data are “definitely alarming,” according to the Associated Press, adding that the rise in strokes and cardiovascular disease is probably related to the “prevalence of obesity in children and young adults.”
Meanwhile, men aged 35 to 44 showed an increase of 47 percent, and there was an increase of 36 percent in women in this age range. According to the study the incidence of strokes is still highest in people over 65.
Dr. Mary George, medical officer in the division of heart disease and stroke prevention at the CDC, Atlanta, said at the conference that "very modest" increases were seen for males and females aged 5 to 14 years, with increases of 36 and 31 percent respectively, according to Elsevier Global Medical News.
George said more research is needed into the causes of the hospitalization rate increases, particularly in young adults, according to Elsevier.
"We cannot link anything in particular to the trend in younger patients, but I believe the role of obesity and hypertension will prompt a big discussion. Unfortunately, right now we can't speculate on the causes," Xin Ton, lead investigator and CDC health statistician said in a prepared statement via the American Heart Association.