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Medical News of the Week: Why Are More Young People Having Strokes?

Summary: Recent statistics indicate that while stroke has been declining in the elderly, occurrence on the rise in people under 50.
Air Date: 6/20/14
Duration: 10
Host: Leigh Vinocur, MD
Guest Bio: Angelique Campen, MD
Angelique Campen, MD, FACEP is an emergency medicine specialist with more than 15 years of experience. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Campen serves as the Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, CA as well as Clinical Instructor of Emergency Medicine at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Medical News of the Week: Why Are More Young People Having Strokes?
Recent statistics indicate that while stroke has been declining in the elderly, stroke occurrence on the rise in younger people; particularly those under the age of 50.

What might be causing this trend?

The reasons are two-fold.

First, there is increased vigilance in identifying strokes as they happen. Prior to the recent developments in medical knowledge and technology, stroke in younger people was often misdiagnosed as a migraine or even anxiety. Now, doctors and ER personnel are more accurate in diagnosing a stroke or a TIA (pre-stroke).

Second, the general health of the younger population is declining, with more chronic diseases occurring at a younger age. Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol -- all risk factors for stroke -- are all on the rise in the younger population. As people are developing these illnesses earlier in life, their risk for stroke is increasing.

What are some signs and symptoms of stroke?

A stroke is basically an attack on your brain.

It can result in weakness on one side of your body, difficulty speaking, difficulty with vision or losing a portion of your vision, drooping on one side of your face, and difficulty with balance.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should get into the ER immediately. Time is of the essence. The sooner you can get in to be seen, the more likely doctors will be able to address/treat and even reverse the stroke without any long-term side effects.

New treatments for stroke are also available. For instance, if there is a blockage in the blood flow to your brain, doctors can control that area of the brain. Medications can be given to get rid of the blood clot in your brain if you're seen in a timely manner.

However, all of these treatments must be done within a certain period of time, because if that area of the brain is deprived of blood or oxygen long enough, it will actually die.

Risk factors for stroke include other heart-related issues, diabetes, obesity, smoking and even migraines.

In this segment, Dr. Angelique Campen joins Dr. Leigh to share the latest on stroke stats, as well as ways you can identify your risk and reduce your risk.
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