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TACOMA HEALTH
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Strokes are rising fast among the young
 
Strokes are rising dramatically among young and middle-aged Americans while dropping in older people, a sign that the obesity epidemic may be starting to shift the age burden of the disease.
 
The numbers come from the first large nationwide study of stroke hospitalizations by age. Government researchers compared hospitalizations in 1994 and 1995 with ones in 2006 and 2007. The sharpest increase — strokes rose by 51 percent in men aged 15 through 34. Strokes rose among women in this age group, too, but not as fast — 17 percent.
 
"It's definitely alarming," said Dr. Ralph Sacco. "We have worried for a while that the increased prevalence of obesity in children and young adults may take its toll in cardiovascular disease and stroke," and that appears to be happening, he said.
 
Stroke still takes its highest toll on older people. For those over 65, there were nearly 300 stroke cases among 10,000 hospitalizations in the more recent period studied. For males 15 to 34, there were about 15 stroke cases per 10,000, and for girls and women in that age group there were about 4 per 10,000.
 
For every 10,000 hospitalizations in 1994-95 compared with 2006-07, strokes rose:
     51 percent, from 9.8 to 14.8, among males 15 to 34 years old
     17 percent, from 3.6 to 4.2, in females 15 to 34
     47 percent, from 36 to 52.9, in males 35 to 44
     36 percent, from 21.9 to 30, in females 35 to 44
 
Better awareness of stroke symptoms and better imaging methods for detecting strokes in young people could account for some of that change, but there is no way to know, she said.
 
At the University of California at Los Angeles, doctors are seeing more strokes related to high blood pressure and clogged arteries in younger people, said Dr. Jeffrey Saver, director of the stroke center at UCLA.
 
Allison Hooker, a nurse who coordinates stroke care at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said her hospital also is seeing more strokes in younger people with risk factors such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, alcohol overuse and diabetes. "I'd say at least half of our population (of stroke patients) is in their 40s or early 50s," she said, "and devastating strokes, too."
 
 
Dr. Iverson's Comment
 
There is a real theme this month in lifestyle choices and the increase in diet associated illnesses. It seems one article after the next is telling us that the United States is not only in debt financially but also nutritionally. 
 
Cerebrovascular accident (or stroke) is a serious condition that can be caused by a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries of the brain. It is not something that we would expect to see in a young population as it typically occurs in the elderly. These arterial buildups can be caused from diet, alcohol, smoking, and the plethora of environmental chemicals that we are exposed to daily leading to inflammation. 
 
Inflammation is the real key factor that needs to be addressed. How do we put out the internal fires? Nature’s Diet book holds the information necessary to lower this flame first by incorporating the water and dietary changes necessary. We also have to address our contact with chemicals that can irritate the intima of the arteries.   Understandably genetic dispositions can put us at a greater propensity to certain conditions, but we can also have a profound effect by our lifestyle choices.
 
Be well!
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