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Strokes dramatically rise for young adults, Crestwood warns

Currently, one in five victims of stroke is younger than 55 years old, according to Crestwood Medical Center. CONTRIBUTED
Currently, one in five victims of stroke is younger than 55 years old, according to Crestwood Medical Center. CONTRIBUTED

HUNTSVILLE – Younger adults are experiencing more strokes, with about one in five victims now younger than 55 years old.

Crestwood Medical Center is advising residents about research published in the “American Academy of Neurology Journal.” The overall number of strokes in the United States has declined in recent years. However, since the mid-1990s, the number of strokes in younger adults has increased by approximately 53 percent.

Experts attribute several factors to the increase. The greatest focus centers on the issue of obesity. A study of more than 2,300 people in the Baltimore area indicated that obese young adults were 57 percent more likely to experience a stroke.

Associated conditions often tied to obesity, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking, may account for much of the increased risk.

“Even though more than 500,000 young adults suffer annually from a stroke, 73 percent of those interviewed indicated they would not seek treatment at a hospital when faced with the classic symptoms,” Rhonda Maze-Buckley said. Maze-Buckley, a registered nurse, works as Director of Critical Care Services at Crestwood.

“Nearly three in four stated they would opt to ‘wait and see’ if their weakness, numbness or impaired vision symptoms went away on their own,” Maze-Buckley said. “This is a lack of awareness that can lead to devastating results.”

She affirmed it is imperative that young adults know the risk factors and “seek care immediately when experiencing signs and symptoms of a stroke.”

The authors of one study suggest people should memorize the acronym “FAST”: Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, Time to Call 911.

Alabama has among the nation’s highest rates for deaths due to stroke for adults younger than 75 years old, according to the Center for Disease Control’s map of stroke-related mortality.

However, strokes are preventable with lifestyle changes. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, daily physical activity, controlling blood pressure and blood sugar and refraining from smoking are most effective.

Crestwood urges residents to schedule an appointment with a physician who can help craft a prevention plan. For more information, call 256-429-4000 or visit crestwoodmedcenter.com.

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