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Stroke is 'getting younger': how you can reduce your risk of cerebral hemorrhage

Starting at age 55, the risk of stroke doubles every 10 years. But this does not mean that if you are under 55, then you are completely insured against the disease. Stroke can occur at a young age and even in children. And recently, there are signs that the disease has begun to get younger, how you can prevent a stroke, the newspaper said. Meduza.

Photo: Shutterstock

Statistics

Scientists have found that 10-15% of ischemic strokes occur in people between the ages of 18 and 50. And in recent years, in this age category, he begins to meet more and more often. For 10 years (from 2000 to 2010) in the United States there were fewer people aged 65–84 years with this diagnosis, and the incidence of stroke in people 25–44 years old increased from 16 to 23 patients per 100 thousand people.

This may be due to the fact that the risk factors contributing to the development of stroke are very widespread in young populations. These factors include smoking, diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, and drug use.

Risk Factors

The causes of stroke in children may differ from those in adults. At the same time, doctors are not always able to establish the reasons. Evidence suggests that half of people under 30 and one third under 55 do not have a cause. This type of stroke is called cryptogenic.

Sometimes this is associated with the fact that doctors have developed the criteria for strokes for older patients and do not take into account the possible causes of "young" strokes.

Yet it is known to increase the likelihood of stroke at a young age. Traditionally, risk factors are divided into modifiable (those that can be influenced by preventive measures) and non-modifiable. In the case of children and young people, the risk is often increased by the latter - among the most common causes of stroke in children and young people are the following:

Anomalies in the structure of the artery. Such as narrowing or blockage. Such anomalies can be both congenital and acquired.

Congenital malformations and acquired heart diseases. For example, myocarditis and endocarditis (inflammation of the tissues of the heart, which most often develops due to infections) or an open oval window, due to which venous blood in the heart mixes with arterial blood from the lungs. This creates the prerequisites for the migration of blood clots from the veins into the arteries that feed the brain.

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Diseases of the blood. For example, sickle cell disease. If nothing is done, at least 11% of patients with sickle cell disease will have a stroke by the age of 20. Also, the risk of developing a stroke is increased by prothrombotic conditions: blood clotting disorders, a tendency to form blood clots, which can be either hereditary (hereditary thrombophilia) or acquired (due to the use of combined oral contraceptives).

Arterial dissection is a rupture of the artery wall, which can occur due to, among other things, head and neck trauma.

“At a young age, the development of stroke may be more associated with disorders of the blood coagulation system or with head and neck injuries than in older people. In this case, hereditary predisposition and the collection of information about close relatives, their diseases and causes of death are important, ”says neurologist Yuri Eliseev.

It is also worth paying attention to the family history, if family members had a stroke, then its likelihood in others increases, this may be due to both heredity and the lifestyle adopted in the family. In such a situation, it is better to see a doctor.

“If there is reason to assume a hereditary disease, the doctor will prescribe an examination,” adds Yuri Eliseev. "If the disease associated with an increased risk of stroke is confirmed, the doctor will give recommendations and, if necessary, prescribe treatment as the primary prevention of stroke."

Arterial pressure

High blood pressure (arterial hypertension) damages blood vessels for a long time, making them less elastic. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that the intensity of blood flow will decrease, the artery will become clogged or ruptured.

It is recommended to measure blood pressure periodically even for those people who feel healthy, because, contrary to popular belief, high blood pressure usually does not have symptoms. How often to take measurements is a controversial issue that is best discussed with your doctor. However, depending on the measurement results, the doctor may recommend a lifestyle change or drug therapy.

Less salt, more vegetables and fruits

Consuming large amounts of salt leads to excess sodium, which raises blood pressure. The recommended amount of salt per day for adults is no more than a teaspoon (5 grams).

Also, it is best to limit your intake of foods with added sugars and saturated fats (sausages, cakes, chocolate, soda) and trans fats (trans fats are usually found in fast food, baked goods, frozen pizza and margarine).

Too much of these elements in the diet can raise cholesterol levels, and too much sugar can increase the risk of obesity, which in turn can lead to high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

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Instead of these foods, it is better to add vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, fish and nuts to the diet. These foods are sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber, but they also contain fewer calories. Such a diet will help control weight, cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure.

Move more

Physical activity reduces the possibility of many diseases, including arterial hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity, and depression. And all these diseases can provoke a stroke.

Smoking (active and passive)

Any type of smoking increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis. This damages the cells lining the blood vessels, promotes the accumulation of cholesterol on their walls, causes constriction, and also increases the likelihood of thrombosis. And all this can cause a stroke.

Alcohol

People know that alcohol is completely exorbitant to our body, but many do not even realize how widespread the harm it causes.

With high doses of alcohol, the pressure rises to such an extent that it can rupture blood vessels in the brain. In addition, the properties of the blood change, resulting in an increased risk of blood clots.

However, there is no safe dose of alcohol. Doctors urge people to at least limit their alcohol consumption if you can't stop drinking.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends drinking no more than 20 grams of pure alcohol per day for no more than five days a week.

And drinking 100 grams at a time once a week is also a bad idea. Because high doses of alcohol can have an immediate effect in the form of cardiac arrhythmias, not to mention a greater likelihood of injury.

Drugs

Substance abuse (these include nicotine, alcohol, drugs) is one of the causes of strokes in people 18–54 years old. Stroke when using drugs (cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, marijuana) can happen, in particular, due to vasospasm, hypertensive crisis (excessive increase in blood pressure) and cardioembolism (when a blood clot formed in the heart blocks the arteries of the brain).

Cholesterol level

High cholesterol contributes to the development of atherosclerosis. Plaques can rupture, for example, causing blood clots to form, which clog blood vessels and sometimes lead to stroke.

Cholesterol levels can be easily controlled with tests and regular visits to your doctor.

Prevention of atherosclerosis, like prevention of stroke, includes lifestyle changes - that is, everything that we described in the previous paragraphs.

Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of stroke and other complications such as kidney damage and blindness. You can find out if you have diabetes and monitor if your condition is stable with a blood glucose test and consultation with your doctor. Once diagnosed, doctors usually also recommend a healthy lifestyle and some medications.

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Pregnancy

During pregnancy and after childbirth, the risk of developing both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke is greatly increased. The cause is various conditions that can be caused by changes in the body.

If a woman smokes during pregnancy, or already has an increased risk of cholesterol or heart disease, then the likelihood of a stroke is also increased.

Vaccination against chickenpox, COVID-19 and other infections

Vaccination helps to reduce the risk of infection and severe infections. Certain bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections can cause or risk a stroke.

There is also evidence of a link between COVID-19 and the development of stroke. True, so far they do not say that the risk of stroke is higher for young people with COVID-19.

“The results of a large comparative retrospective study show that the average age, associated risk factors and complications of patients with acute ischemic stroke and COVID-19 are similar compared to patients without COVID-19,” explains Yuri Eliseev.

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