Younger people are increasingly suffering from strokes, with around one in five victims below the age of 55.
Research in the American Academy of Neurology Journal shows out of 1.3 million people over 20 years old studied in greater Cincinnati and North Kentucky in the US between 1993 and 2005, 19% of those who experienced a stroke were below 55 years old – up from 13% in 1993.
In comparison, those in the oldest age groups saw a decline in the stroke rate over the same period.
Lead Dr Brett Kissela attributed a rise in risk factors such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol to the growing trend of strokes in younger people.
A spokesperson from the Stroke Association described the findings as “alarming”.
“With the number of younger people having strokes increasing, greater strain will be placed on health services to support them with their recovery,” said said Dr Clare Walton, Research Communication’s Officer at the Stroke Association.
“This is particularly worrying given the proposed cuts to the NHS and social care which could seriously impact on patients’ life after stroke.
“A stroke happens in an instant but its effects can last a lifetime, leaving many with long-term severe disabilities.
“This problem needs to be addressed now. In many cases a stroke can be prevented and everyone can reduce their risk by making a few simple healthy lifestyle changes. For example, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting your blood pressure checked can all make a huge difference.”