Despite considerable improvements in diagnostics, treatment and prevention, Strokes are placed 2ndon the mortality list. Matter of concern is the data which indicates that Stroke incidence in young adults is on the rise. Current estimates and studies report that 10-15% Strokes occur in young adults! This can be devastating to the individual as well as the family, as it has a huge impact on the victim during the most productive years of their life.
First and foremost, it is important to understand what is the meaning of ‘young adults’ and then an understanding of the term ‘Stroke’. To define age, those who are younger than 45yrs of age, are termed as young adults. Young people have a low risk of suffering a Stroke; however, there is no such thing as ‘too young for a stroke’. Often referred to as a ‘Brain Attack’, an Ischemic Stroke occurs when blood flow to an area in the Brain is cut off; this situation deprives the blood cells from Oxygen and Glucose needed to survive. Ignorance of the signs due to negligence or due to lack of knowledge about Stroke, can lead to permanent brain damage or even death. In contrast to Ischemic Stroke, a Brain Hemorrhage occurs when blood vessels in the brain rupture.
The most common Stroke symptoms are numbness in any part of the body (body movements become difficult), difficulty in speech, unclear vision, loss of balance, or severe headaches.
The treatment and management of Stroke in younger patients requires a different approach, simply because the cause of the Stroke may not be necessarily be linked to age. A significant number of Strokes under the age of 45yrs are caused by a dissection of blood vessel in the brain or neck. A small tear in a larger vessel causes the clot to form and travel to the brain. Other causes of Stroke that are linked to a young age are – smoking, arbitrary consumption of birth control pills, and migraines. There are also cardiogenic causes that account for Stroke in younger patients; these may include Heart valve abnormalities, being born with a hole on either side of the Heart or Rheumatic Heart Diseases.
One of the reasons for a Stroke occurring at such a young age is also ‘childhood obesity’. Obesity not only poses as a lifetime risk of Stroke, but also increases the risk of High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, and Diabetes. Below are a few preventive measures that one should adopt:
- Keep a check or control on Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and High Cholesterol
- Have a balanced diet which includes green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and fruits
- Exercise regularly to keep the body and mind active
- Consult with your family doctor from time to time & undergo regular check-ups
- Limit alcohol consumption and smoking
The process of recovery among young adults is much faster and smoother, than in older people. About 20%-30% of people who suffer from a Stroke are left with a long-term disability. However, the rate of recovery is far better of a 30-year-old than someone over the age of 45yrs, because of better brain plasticity, and its ability to learn new skills and adjust with irregularity. While the risk of Stroke cannot completely be avoided, the key to managing a Stroke in young people is to identify, treat and address the triggers.
(Disclaimer: Inputs by Dr Pawan Ojha, HOD, Neurologist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital)