Rise in strokes in younger adults, Black Americans worries doctors

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Monday, September 18, 2023
Rise in strokes in younger adults, Black Americans worries doctors
Neurologists say a 40% rise in strokes among those under 60 makes being aware of your risk factors vital in younger adults.

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. And someone dies of one every 4 minutes.

Now, as doctors see unsettling trends in stroke, they say it's time to lower your risk.

"In the last 5 years, there's been about a 40% increase in the number of young people less than 60 admitted to the hospital," says Dr. Leah Croll, a Temple Health neurologist.

Dr. Croll says older people still face the highest stroke risk.

However, the rise in younger patients is of great concern.

"We are really worried about Black patients, young black patients in particular," notes Dr. Croll.

She says risks fall into 2 categories - factors you can't control, and those you can.

Age, race, and some medical conditions can't be changed.

But there are many factors we can control: A lack of regular exercise, unhealthy eating, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are on the list.

So are too little sleep and poor stress management.

"These are all things that add up and contribute to your risk for stroke," says Dr. Croll.

But improving those factors also adds up - to a lower risk.

Temple Health's Stroke Prevention Clinic uses personalized support to help high-risk patients make the changes that can head off strokes.

Sylvia Ouzomgi, the Stroke Program Coordinator, says one way they help patients is by teaching them to take their blood pressure at home and record it on a score card.

"It's very, very important to map out their blood pressure. This way, when they go in and see their primary physician, they can show them you know one month worth versus one time worth of their blood pressure." says Ouzomgi.

Dr. Croll says high-risk or not, everyone should be alert for the sudden neurological changes.

"That means one second you're fine. The next second you have the symptom," she says.

The key signs are condensed into the term BE FAST.

"B is for balance. So if you have sudden imbalance, dizziness, trouble walking. E is for eyes - a sudden difficulty with your vision," she notes.

F is for face - Is one side drooping?

A is for arm - Is one weak, or drooping?

"S is for speech. You want to check for slurred speech. You want to understand when others are talking to you," says Dr. Croll.

T is for time - call 911 immediately if you spot those symptoms.

As doctors say: "Time is Brain."

Nearly two million brain cells die every minute a stroke goes untreated.

If treatments are delivered quickly, there's a good chance to stop the stroke and make a full recovery.