Stroke Awareness and Younger Adults

Sunrise Senior Living  |  March 15, 2019

The death of actor Luke Perry surprised everyone. Perry seemed like an active 52-year-old in the prime of his life. That someone so young could lose their life to a massive stroke has many wondering if they are at risk.

While 75 percent of strokes occur in people over the age of 65, younger adults can experience a stroke too. In fact, it’s a trend that is concerning health professionals.

Mean Age of Strokes Trending Downward

Research shows the mean age for experiencing a stroke is declining. From 1993 to 2005, the mean age of stroke victims fell from 71.2 to 69.2. Those under the age of 55 accounted for about 13 percent of all strokes in 1993 and 1994; however, by 2005 that number had climbed to nearly 19 percent.

Researchers aren’t ignoring the trend. Many believe the obesity epidemic may be partially to blame. It has led to increased incidences of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes in younger people. These are known risk factors for stroke.

Unfortunately, drug use may be another reason younger adults are experiencing strokes. It’s no secret that the opioid crisis affects people of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Drug use increases the risk for high blood pressure, vasospasms, and infections such as endocarditis. Each of these can contribute to strokes.

Stroke Recovery and Treatment in Younger Adults

Not all young adults who have a stroke suffer the fate of Luke Perry. Strokes in people under age 55 can cause life-long disabilities in 10 to 30 percent of cases, but most younger adults recover.

Here’s what research shows:

  • The survival rate for younger adults five years after a stroke is 90 percent compared with just 40 percent for older adults.
  • Ninety percent of younger stroke survivors complete rehab and return to an independent life. For seniors, that number is only 40 percent.
  • At least half of young people who have a stroke can return to work.

Addressing Stroke Risk Factors

By addressing the risk factors that lead to a stroke, young adults can lower their risk of another stroke to 15 percent. Experts say that usually means eating a well-balanced diet, losing weight, and making exercise a part of your daily life. If you smoke, stop.

For young adults suffering from drug addiction, the road to recovery is more complicated. A drug treatment program might be an essential component of a stroke recovery plan.

Finally, young adults might want to consider joining a stroke support group. Young adults who have survived a stroke might struggle with anxiety and fear, as well as difficulty adapting to a healthier lifestyle. The National Stroke Association has resources to help stroke survivors connect with one another.

Short-Term Support for Stroke Survivors

Adults of all ages might need a more supportive environment while they recover from a stroke. A short-term respite care stay might be the ideal solution.

From medication management assistance to nutritious meals, Sunrise Senior Living communities are a leading provider of respite care. Call 888-434-4648 to learn more about pricing and availability at a community near you.

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