Strokes Becoming More Common in Young to Middle-Aged Americans
Strokes are rising significantly among young and middle-aged people, but lowering in older ones, suggesting that the obesity epidemic may be reshaping the age burden of the disease.
These numbers come from the first large nationwide study of stroke hospitalizations by age. Government researchers compared hospitalizations in 1994 and 1995 with ones in 2006 and 2007.
The noteworthy increase was a 51 percent increase in strokes among men ages 15-34. Strokes rose 17 percent among women in this age group as well.
"It's definitely alarming," said Dr. Ralph Sacco, American Heart Association president and a neurologist at the University of Miami. "We have worried for a while that the increased prevalence of obesity in children and young adults may take its toll in cardiovascular disease and stroke."
Stroke still takes its highest toll on the elderly, but a few small studies have alluded to a threatening increase among the young and middle-aged women.
"We were interested in whether we could pick that up in a much larger, nationwide dataset," said Dr. Mary George, a stroke researcher at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The increases seen in children are very modest, but they are more so in the young adult age groups, and we feel that deserves further study."