Warning from Iowa doctor on rising rate of stroke in younger patients

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 10:47 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - According to new research, the stroke rate for younger adults is on the rise.

Dr. Hannah Roeder from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics said, “When we think of strokes generally, younger people, we think of up to about 50 years of age.” However, strokes happen to people even younger than 50. Research from the medical journal Stroke reported that from 2004 to 2018, younger adults 18-44 saw a 38% increase in strokes. Middle-aged patients 45-65 saw a 24% rise.

Dr. Roeder said there are a variety of factors that potentially contribute to the trend of more strokes in young people. “Some things that I think might contribute to more strokes in the younger adult population are things like more diabetes and more heart disease, and then things like smoking and drug use can also contribute to strokes in the young. And then there are some rare cases that we see more commonly in young people than older people.”

This data is of personal significance to me, the reporter on this story. In April, I had a stroke at the age of 29. According to my doctors, a clot was caused by a rip in an arterial wall. Dr. Roeder said, in younger patients, a stroke caused by trauma to the body is “something we see relatively commonly.”

“We say sometimes...sort of in the exam vignettes, it’ll be a chiropractor visit, but it can be sort of things that cause, like, whiplash and sometimes we never know what the cause is. Because if you think retrospectively, you know, like, at that time I turned weird last week—I think probably everyone can think of something if they think hard enough, so sometimes we don’t know what caused it. But yeah, it’s thought to be some sort of injury or sudden movement in a lot of cases, and it’s something that we also commonly see like after motor vehicle crashes, but certainly doesn’t have to be an injury that severe.”

While it is important for people to be aware that strokes can happen to younger people, Dr. Roeder said there is no cause for alarm. The key thing is just to be aware. “It’s not something that I would, you know, say this is something for people to necessarily worry about, that they’re going to have a stroke at a young age. But I think it’s important to recognize mainly, so they recognize the signs of a stroke and they know what to do.”

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