If you’re not a man of advanced age, you don’t really have to worry about getting a stroke, right? Wrong, apparently. Stroke is the fifth most common cause of death for men, and a new study says that younger men are increasingly at risk of stroke.
The study, published in JAMA Neurology, claims that hospitalizations for ischemic stroke, the most common kind, spiked by 42% in men aged 35 to 44 between 2003 and 2012. It was the biggest increase of any age group during that time period.
Hospitalizations have also risen for men between 18 and 34 years old, rising by about 15%. The rise in stroke risk has been known about for a few years, but people speculated that the increased numbers might be due not to actual risk, but to improvements in diagnostic technology. But this new study claims that the spike in stroke risk is commensurate with a spike in stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and tobacco use.
The new science appears to demonstrate fairly conclusively that the elevated risk is real, and not a reflection of factors that don’t have to do with our actual health. It’s an alarming new trend that should provoke young men to learn more about the condition and how to spot it before it can do serious damage.
Strokes can be fatal, so learn how to be on the lookout. Be vigilant for sudden onset of facial weakness, or weakness in an arm or a leg. If you become suddenly confused, have trouble with your vision, can’t walk, get dizzy, get a bad headache and/or become suddenly uncoordinated, those are all warning signs. If you think you’re having a stroke, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Getting treated quickly is a major determinant in how much damage the stroke will do to you.
If you suspect you might be having a stroke, call 911 right away. If you can catch it within three hours, you stand the best chance of getting out of it unscathed.
It’s also important to not expose yourself to risk factors associated with stroke. If you’re a smoker, here’s your millionth reason to quit. Living a generally healthy, active life can reduce your risk for stroke along with virtually every malady that besets people, from cancer to depression.
Get out ahead of this one. If you’re a young guy, you’re increasingly at risk for a number of health conditions that could potentially take your life. Establish good habits early.