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Young man relaxing at home to illustrate that stroke can occur at any age

PREVENT

More young people are having strokes. Manage your risks.

A stroke happens when blood and oxygen flow to the brain stops or gets interrupted due to a ruptured or blocked blood vessel. While you may think that a stroke only happens to older adults, anyone – at any age – can have a stroke. Recent studies show that the incidence of stroke in adults ages 35 to 55 is on the rise.

We don't know why younger people are having more strokes. One reason may be an increase in risk factors in younger people. Stroke risk factors can affect anyone at any age.

Risk factors for a stroke include:

  • uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol
  • being overweight or obese
  • use of tobacco
  • abuse of drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines. 

Reduce your risk of stroke

According to the CDC, nearly one in three deaths in the U.S. each year is caused by heart disease and stroke. At least 200,000 of these deaths could have been prevented through changes in health habits. Six out of 10 preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke occur in people younger than 65.

Certain risks increase your chance of having a stroke. While there are some risk factors you can't control, such as your gender, age, race or family history, here are a few things you can manage to decrease your risk of having a stroke:

  • Have your health care provider check and help you manage your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugars.
  • Manage your weight. Carrying extra weight can strain your circulatory system and make you more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Get regular exercise. Lack of exercise increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
  • If you smoke or use other tobacco products, quit. Tobacco use doubles your stroke risk. 
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Men shouldn't drink more than two alcoholic drinks each day, and women shouldn't consume more than one alcoholic drink each day.

Talk with your health care provider to learn more about your stroke risk factors and how you can prevent a stroke. It’s never too early to start the conversation, especially if you have a family history of stroke.

Signs of stroke

Use the acronym B.E.F.A.S.T. to identify signs of stroke: 

  • B – Balance – Sudden difficulty with balance
  • E – Eyes – Sudden problems with vision in one or both eyes
  • F – Face – Face or smile droops on one side
  • A – Arms – Sudden weakness in the arm or leg
  • – Speech - Unable to repeat a simple sentence, or slurred words 
  • T – Time – If you observe any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Other stroke symptoms may include sudden numbness of one side of the body (face, arm, or leg), sudden confusion, sudden difficulty walking or coordination, and sudden severe headache with no known cause. 
Call 911 immediately if you suspect you or someone you know is having a stroke. There are several treatments for stroke, but they are most effective in the first few hours after symptoms start, so don't wait.

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