The risk of stroke probably isn't a major health concern for most people until they reach their sixties or seventies, but a recent study shows it's a condition affecting younger and younger patients. Our Sarah Blazonis talked with one doctor about what this means for the future of patients dealing with the often debilitating consequences.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- "This is what we call a biplane angiography room," Dr. Eric DeShaies said from a room inside SUNY Upstate University Hospital.
It's a room where Dr. DeShaies treats people suffering from strokes. Just as technology to treat patients continues to change, so does the age of his patients.
"Particularly those ranging in age from about 15 to 34-years-old, the instance of stroke has increased significantly over the past decade," said DeShaies.
A study published in the journal "Neurology" shows the rate of stroke in people younger than 55 is on the rise. It increased from 12.9 percent in 1993 to 18.6 percent in 2005. The research focused on more than one million people living in Ohio and Kentucky, but it's a trend being seen nationwide.
"Strokes occur in about six children per 100,000 children," DeShaies said. "They can have diseases of the heart, of the arteries, infection, sickle cell disease."
But, other factors are also likely at work. Doctors say the trend is part of a cycle that's also seen conditions like diabetes and obesity appearing in younger patients. Patients can suffer the usual range of stroke effects, from paralysis to problems communicating, but there are differences in how younger patients heal.
"The brain is more formidable and can rearrange itself a little easier than older adults, so they can have better recoveries as the brain retrains itself. But additionally, they do have a longer period of time to undergo rehabilitation," said Dr. DeShaies.
DeShaies said adopting healthy eating and exercise habits are a good way to reduce stroke risk and ensure you don't end up meeting him in the biplane angiography room.