Incidence of stroke in the younger population increasing in U.S.


Yesterday, actor Frankie Muniz (now 27) admitted he was hospitalized for a “mini stroke.” Muniz, famous for his role in Malcolm in the Middle, appears to have recovered and tweeted, “Have to start taking care of my body! Getting old!”

Beaumont’s medical director of stroke services and co-chair of the Michigan Stroke Initiative, Sunitha Santhakumar, M.D. explained that the incidence of stroke in the younger population (under 50 years of age) is increasing in the United States even though the overall stroke incidence is declining.

In children and young adults (under 50 years of age), causes for mini stroke (TIAs) and strokes are mainly related to heart problems, either congenital and acquired, bleeding or clotting disorders like sickle-cell disease, abnormalities of the arteries like vasculitis, genetic conditions, smoking and use of recreational drugs.

High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol also increasing in the younger population. Infants and young children may present with seizures or in their alertness or confusion when they have a stroke. They can also present with focal signs, like weakness, which is more commonly seen as presentation in older children and adults.

Dr. Santhakumar says, “It is important to remember that if anyone shows signs of a stroke the most important thing to do is visit the closest emergency room right away. It is also important, during your annual physical, to screen for hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Signs of a Stroke

  • Face – does one side of face droop when asked to smile?
  • Arm – does one arm automatically fall when asked to raise arms?
  • Speech – is speech slurred?
  • Time – call 911 as quickly as possible to treat stroke before permanent damage is present.
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