Do you know your risks for stroke? Do you think age is the leading factor?
Stroke has been long associated with older adults, but strokes can happen at any age. In fact, the incidence of stroke among people 50 and younger has been increasing in recent years.
“We’ve seen several stroke patients in their 20s this past year, and it all comes down to lifestyle, diet and exercise to reduce your risks,” says Pam Flinchum, R.N., stroke specialist and quality improvement facilitator of the Stroke Alert program at Carilion Clinic.
According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death and is a leading cause of disability in the United States. So no matter your age, it’s important to know your risks and recognize the warning signs.
Women are at a higher risk of having a stroke than men, and while there are certain risk factors that are out of our control—such as family history, race and gender—risk factors such as diabetes and habits such as smoking or vaping e-cigarettes can also increase your risk.
“The increase in strokes happening to people 50 and younger has a lot to do with lack of exercise," said Pam. "That can lead to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Bad food choices can also lead to high cholesterol, which is another risk factor.”
Take this stroke risk self-assessment to learn what your risk factors are.
Control Your Risk
The good news is, about 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by lifestyle changes and screenings. Decrease your risk by:
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- If you smoke or vape, quitting—you don’t have to do it alone
- Knowing your blood pressure and working on keeping it low
- Getting at least 20 minutes of active exercise a day
- Scheduling a wellness checkup at least once a year
It’s important to not dismiss any of the symptoms of a stroke no matter what age you are. Learn the BE FAST signs below so you can react quickly. If you or someone near you displays the symptoms of a stroke, call 911 immediately. The sooner you seek medical attention, the better your chances will be for recovery.