The Surprising Stroke Statistic That Has Doctors Worried

True or False: Strokes are something only older people need to worry about.

Unfortunately, that statement is false.

Recent research shows that stroke rates have sharply increased in those under 55 and younger, going up 85 percent in people between the ages of 35 and 54. So if you’ve never thought much about stroke risk before, it’s worth paying attention to now.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood flowing to an area of your brain is cut off. When that happens, cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. This can impact the parts of your body controlled by that region of your brain.

Are they common?

Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 130,000 Americans each year. And while many people who have strokes can recover completely, stroke is also a leading cause of disability.

What should you keep an eye out for?

The recent statistics mean it’s important to get tested for high blood pressure and high cholesterol (two risk factors for a stroke)—even if you’re young. The good news: Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Here’s what else you can do to lower your risk of stroke, no matter your age:

  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Be physically active
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke
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