Medical Moment: Rise in stroke cases among young adults, doctors say
(WNDU) - Traditionally, strokes were considered a condition primarily affecting older adults. But in recent years, doctors have noticed a disturbing trend.
The rise of stroke cases among younger adults, a demographic that was once considered low-risk. There are plenty of health problems that young adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s have to watch out for, but until recently, a stroke wasn’t one of them.
However, new data reveals an increase in the number of young adults facing an unexpected battle with strokes. Experts point to poor lifestyle choices as the main risk factor. Smoking, unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, and increased stress have played a role because they lead to problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity.
But one risk factor most people don’t consider has to do with chiropractic adjustments.
Doctors say forceful and rapid neck rotations during these procedures can potentially cause damage to the vertebral arteries supplying blood to the brain stem.
“We see five, if it’s a bad year, up to eight or 10 a year per hospital, and some of them can be quite devastating because the brain stem and the cerebellum are in an enclosed compartment and that only so much room,” said Dr. Melissa McDonald, with McKay Dee Hospital.
Stroke symptoms in young adults are similar to those seen in older adults: weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg; sudden change in speech, difficulty walking or keeping your balance; and sudden severe headaches and change in vision.
Any of these symptoms require immediate medical attention, but doctors say younger adults tend to wait longer than older adults to go to the ER.
Dr. McDonald says younger adults face an increased risk of complications from brain swelling following a stroke due to the relatively larger size of their brains within the skull compared to older individuals.
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