True or false? Only the elderly are at risk of having a stroke.
False. Stroke can happen at any age, and there are a variety of risk factors associated with having a stroke earlier in life. In fact, many young adults are unprepared when a stroke occurs: They may not recognize its symptoms or seek care in time.
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How Often Does Stroke Occur in Young Adults?
Although the majority of people who suffer a stroke are older than 60, up to 10 percent of all strokes occur in those under age 45.
Infants, high school students, and young adults can experience a stroke. A stroke can develop unexpectedly, so make sure you recognize the signs and react quickly.
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Why Do Young People Have Strokes?
Risk factors that increase the chance of having a stroke as a young adult include:
In elderly people, strokes often are the result of blood clots that travel to the brain or clogged arteries that prevent proper blood flow. Though it can take years for arteries to harden, habits such as smoking, heavy drug use, and a poor diet can quicken the process, potentially resulting in a stroke at a young age.
Though these factors increase the risk of young adults suffering from a stroke, there are still many unknown causes of stroke in those under 45.
Knowing the Signs of Stroke in Young Adults
To help you determine if someone is having a stroke, use the acronym “F.A.S.T.” This stands for:
- Face – Is their face drooping on one side?
- Arms – Do they have difficulty raising both arms?
- Speech – Is their speech slurred? Are they unable to repeat simple phrases?
- Time – If you can answer yes to any of the above questions, call 911 as soon as possible.
Symptoms that accompany a stroke include:
- Numbness on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
The symptoms of stroke in young adults are the same as those in older people. Do not wait to see if the stroke symptoms go away on their own. Call 911, even if you are unsure someone is experiencing the symptoms of a stroke.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke
A stroke can occur at any age, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.
One of the most important ways to protect yourself from stroke is by maintaining a healthy diet and weight, which also helps lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Important ways you can lower your stroke risk include:
- Keep a regular exercise schedule of at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week
- Kick those unhealthy habits, such as smoking and excessive drinking
- Manage and monitor any known heart conditions with the help of your doctor
Based in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and more than 700 doctor’s offices and outpatient centers. Our expert physicians are among the leaders in their fields, and we are leaders in groundbreaking research and treatment breakthroughs. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside ranks as “One of America’s Best Hospitals” and No. 1 in Pennsylvania in U.S. News & World Report’s listings.