Younger Populations Also At Risk Of Strokes, Doctors Say
While strokes are most common in the older population, younger individuals are also at risk. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report on the warning signs for the nation's third-leading cause of death.
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"I didn't think that it could happen to me," said stroke victim Yvonne Honigsberg. "I'm 41 only, but I couldn't walk I couldn't talk."
In February, Honigsberg suffered a stroke and is undergoing extensive therapy to improve her speech and regain full control of the right side of her body.
Nearly 750,000 Americans are affected by stroke each year, and contrary to popular belief, younger people are also susceptible.
"Most people think of stroke as something that occurs in the elderly, but in actuality, particularly in our patient population, stroke can happen even in young people," explained Dr. Scott Segan, director of St. Barnabas Stroke Center. "Almost half of our strokes occur in people under age 60 and a quarter of them under age 50; that's people in their 30s and their 40s."
A stoke occurs when one of the blood vessels to the brain is either blocked with a blood clot or ruptures. The results of a stroke can vary from mild weakness or numbness on one side of the body to severe disability and paralysis and even death.
Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, smoking, blood disorders and family history. Doctors say symptoms include weakness or numbness, typically involving one side of the face arm and or leg. Also, slurred speech, a sudden change in vision, and uncharacteristic headaches could be signs of a stroke.
"If you're experiencing the bleeding type of stroke that is usually is manifested by a severe or an acute headache, which is unlike any other headache you've often had," said Dr. Philip Stieg, a doctor of neurological surgery at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center. "People will refer it to as a thunder-clapping headache or a gun going off in my head."
Doctors say it's important for everyone to recognize the early signs of a stroke, since there is a small window of time for treatment.
"During the first few hours there still may be some reversibility and if a person can get to the hospital and get treatment during the first few hours," said Segan. "Then they can get treatment and it may prevent permanent damage."
For more information, go to the National Stroke Association's website..