New Delhi: A team of researchers has found a sharp increase in stroke cases among young people, especially among working professionals.
Among young people who had a stroke, there was a significant increase in the proportion who were in more skilled occupations, particularly professional or managerial positions.
This may suggest a role for work-related stress, low physical activity, and long working hours, each of which is more strongly associated with stroke risk than heart attack.
The findings of the study, published in the journal JAMA on World Stroke Day 2022, which analyzed the rate of new stroke cases in Oxfordshire, UK over the past 20 years, reflect emerging evidence that stroke in young people is a growing problem at high – income countries.
“Establishing the importance of known risk factors for stroke in young people will help raise public awareness of the need for better control.” We also need better ways to identify young people at high risk of stroke, as current risk models are based on predictors of stroke in older people,” said Medical Research Foundation Fellow Dr Linxin Li of Oxford University.
Stroke is a serious health problem that can have devastating consequences. It occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, causing brain cell death and dysfunction in one or more parts of the brain.
Restricted blood supply can result from a blockage in an artery supplying blood to the brain, a ruptured blood vessel causing bleeding in the brain, or a brief reduction in blood supply to the brain.
The traditional view is that vascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, play a secondary role in stroke in young people, but recent studies have begun to challenge this view.
Dr. Li’s research focuses on multiple types of stroke, such as ischemic strokes caused by blocked arteries, “mini-strokes” (transient ischemic attacks), and bleeding in the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage).
The researchers found that between 2002-2010 and 2010-2018, there was a 67% increase in the incidence of stroke among younger adults (under 55) and a 15% decrease among older adults (55 or older).
A similar difference in incidence was not found for other vascular events, such as heart attacks.
“Historically, we thought stroke only affected older people, but studies like this suggest a growing problem in young adults,” said Dr. Angela Hind, chief executive of the Medical Research Foundation.
“Stroke in young adults can have a huge impact, often occurring when they are starting a family or already have young children to care for and are just about to reach the peak of their careers. The economic, social and personal consequences can be devastating,” Hind added.