OHIO — While the number of strokes in those 75 and older have decreased over the last few decades, a study from the American Heart Association noted an alarming rise in strokes for those 49 and younger. 

The strokes occurring in the younger population are most notable in certain regions like the Midwest and the south, according to the report. 

What You Need To Know

  • There’s been a gradual shift in the last 30 years with younger people having strokes 

  • Time to treat younger stroke patients is decreasing, which is helping with long-term outcomes

  • High cholesterol, heart problems and arrhythmias that cause dehydration are some reasons for strokes 

“Strokes used to be thought of as a disease of older patients, where patients would have lack of blood flow to part of the brain and that would cause them to have debilitating injury and changes to the brain," said Dr. Patrick Youssef, a neurosurgeon at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. "Recently, we’ve been seeing more and more of these strokes, these ischemic strokes or lack of blood flow to the brain, happening in younger and younger patients.”

Youssef explained that initially, doctors couldn’t believe that they were seeing patients so young experiencing strokes as “this is not a disease that should affect those patients.” 

Youssef has seen patients of his own experiencing stroke symptoms. He noted the good thing is that as they’re recognizing the symptoms more, time to treat younger stroke patients is decreasing, which is helping with long-term outcomes. 

Some of the biggest reasons young people face strokes include high cholesterol, heart problems and arrhythmias that cause dehydration. Youssef noted that all of those together can “increase a patient’s stroke risk.” 

No matter what age, you can quickly identify if someone is having a stroke by using the BE FAST acronym. 

B = Balance. Watch out for sudden loss of balance or coordination

E = Eyes. Note any vision loss in one or both eyes or double vision 

F = Face. Watch for drooping on one side of the face 

A = Arms. Note any sudden weakness in an arm or leg 

S = Speech. Note slurred speech, difficulty speaking or understanding of words 

T = Time. Call 911 if someone is experiencing any of these symptoms