Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Up to 10 percent of Strokes Occur in People under Age 45

Stroke in Joe Biden's 41-year-old son illustrates how strokes can occur at any age, Loyola stroke specialist says

The news that Vice President Joe Biden's 41-year-old son has suffered a stroke is highlighting the problem of strokes in young people. "Strokes can occur at any age," said Dr. José Biller of Loyola University Health System, author of the landmark textbook, "Stroke in Children and Young Adults." Children and adults younger than 45 account for 5 percent to 10 percent of all stroke cases, Biller said. "The impact of strokes can be devastating to young adults, their families and society," Biller said. The quicker a patient is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. "But people don't think that children and young adults can get strokes," Biller said. "So family members often are slow to recognize strokes." The incidence of stroke increases dramatically with advancing age. The incidence of stroke doubles each decade past 55 years of age. Half of all strokes occur in people older than 70 to 75 years, Biller said.

However, children and adults younger than 45 account for as many as 10 percent of all stroke cases. In developing countries, the proportion is even higher, with 20 percent to 30 percent of strokes occurring in people younger than 45.

There are notable differences in incidence, presentation, risk factors, and prognosis in stroke occurring in individuals younger than 45, compared with individuals older than 45. There are multiple causes of ischemic stroke, especially in young adults. Risk factors are extensive and diverse in this population.

A large proportion of strokes are preventable by controlling blood pressure, treating atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm) and stopping cigarette smoking.

Warning signs of stroke include sudden: Weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body. Numbness or tingling of the face or one side of the body. Confusion or trouble understanding. Trouble speaking. Trouble seeing in one or both eyes. Trouble walking; dizziness; loss of balance or coordination. Severe, unusual headaches. If you experience stroke symptoms, call 911 immediately. "Every second counts," Biller said. "Time is brain."

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.