Stroke cases rising among younger adults

Reporter: Amy Oshier Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

In the past, strokes were considered a condition that affected older adults. But recently, doctors have noticed a disturbing rise of stroke cases among younger adults.

New data reveals an increase in the number of young adults facing an unexpected battle with strokes. Experts point to poor lifestyle choices as the main risk factor.

Smoking, unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, and increased stress have played a role because they lead to problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity.

One risk factor most people don’t consider has to do with chiropractic adjustments. Doctors say forceful and rapid neck rotations during these procedures can potentially cause damage to the vertebral arteries supplying blood to the brain stem.

“We see five, if it’s a bad year, eight or ten a year per hospital, and some of them can be quite devastating because the brain stem and cerebellum are in an enclosed compartment, and there’s only so much room,” explains Neurohospitalist at McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah, Melissa McDonald, MD.

Stroke symptoms in young adults are similar to those seen in older adults: weakness, or numbness in the face, arm, or leg, sudden change in speech, difficulty walking or keeping your balance, and sudden severe headaches and change in vision.

Any of these symptoms require immediate medical attention, but doctors say younger adults tend to wait longer than older adults to go to the ER.

Doctor McDonald said younger adults face an increased risk of complications, from brain swelling following a stroke due to the relatively larger size of their brains within the skull compared to older people.

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