Understanding stroke risks across generations

Having a stroke isn't something that only happens to older adults. Young people are at risk, too. Stroke isn’t confined to smokers who are overweight or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, either. 

A stroke is when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, either by a blood clot or bleeding. The results can be devastating at any age. Without treatment, cells in the brain quickly begin to die. These “brain attacks” can lead to serious disability or death. 

About 10% of the 800,000 strokes that happen in the U.S. each year strike adults younger than 45. It is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., killing nearly 140,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Here are things about stroke you should know. 

Some risks can be controlled

Some stroke risk factors are beyond your control, like family history — that means you’re at higher risk if a relative has had a stroke or a heart attack at an early age. There are ways to reduce your risk. One way is to work closely with your doctor to watch your blood pressure and control cholesterol levels. You can also quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption, maintain a healthy weight and increase your physical activity, which can help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. Choose to eat healthy meals that are low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol and that are high in fiber. 

Stroke is more disabling than it is fatal

Stroke remains a leading cause of disability in the U.S. The number of people having strokes with painful and debilitating after-effects remains a major cause of concern. Patients who have a stroke should take part in a stroke rehabilitation program — which consists of physical, occupational and speech therapy — as soon as they’re strong enough. Delaying rehab for even several days can hurt your chance of recovery. 

Although you can’t control every risk factor for stroke, you can take steps to prevent stroke and its complications. 

Symptoms of a stroke

Recognizing a stroke and seeking immediate treatment are keys to reducing the damaging effects. If you or someone you know shows sudden symptoms, call 911 immediately. 

Learn the signs of a stroke 

FAST is an acronym used to help detect and enhance responsiveness to stroke victim needs. 

Facial drooping: A section of the face, usually only on one side, that is drooping and hard to move. 
Arm weakness: The inability to raise one's arm fully. 
Speech difficulties: An inability or difficulty understanding or producing speech. 
Time: Time is of the essence when having a stroke. Call 911 or go to the hospital immediately. 

Learn more about stroke care at Northside Hospital Heart Institute.


Media Inquiries

Northside Hospital's media relations staff look forward to assisting you with news stories whenever possible. We promise to try and meet all of your story needs.
Media Contacts

Featured Provider

Dr. Colin O'Brien picture

Dr. Colin O'Brien

Specialties: Cardiology, Noninvasive Cardiology

View Profile

Dr. Colin O’Brien is a board certified physician in general cardiology. He uses cutting edge diagnostics and evidence-based guidelines to treat his patients while incorporating the patient’s preferences and concerns into the treatment plan.

Need Help Finding a Provider?
Take advantage of Northside Hospital's free physician referral service. Available weekdays , 8a.m. - 4p.m. EST. 404-845-5555