Strokes in young adults on the rise

Strokes in young adults on the rise

LOS ANGELES, CA. — When it comes to treating a stroke, every minute matters. Doctors say if patients don’t get to a hospital within three hours, strokes can be fatal or cause serious damage. Unfortunately, that’s a message most young people aren’t getting. Strokes in young adults have gone up considerably, but according to a new survey, few know what to do. With details here’s ABC 10’s Sarah Mac.

The symptoms Jennifer Reilly experienced seemed like nothing. Numbness in her hand periodically followed by a bad headache a few hours later.

In fact, Jennifer might have ignored her symptoms, if not for a co–worker who insisted she go to the hospital, where she was stunned by her diagnosis.

Jennifer says, “When the doctor told me that I’d had a stroke at age 27 I almost didn’t believe him. I almost thought that this could not be possible.”

Not only is it possible, it’s happening more often.

Since the mid 90s strokes in patients under the age of 45 have shot up as much as 53%. And all too often young patients react just like Jennifer.

David Liebeskind, MD of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center says, “We may think that these symptoms are maybe mild or due to some other medical problem or nothing at all. We tend to delay and not come in immediately. But that is a real problem.”

Dr. David Liebeskind of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center diagnosed Jennifer. He says she’s lucky she got help in time because most young people may not.

In fact, in a new national survey by UCLA – those under 45 were given the symptoms of a stroke and asked what they would do in the first three hours. Only about one out of three said they would be very likely to go to the hospital – a staggering 73% said they were likely to just wait and see if they got better.

A delay that could prove costly.

Dr. Liebeskind says, “Timely treatment for stroke is probably more important than for almost any other medical problem there is. The brain is very sensitive to a lack of blood flow or bleeding, and the consequences can be absolutely devastating.”

Doctors say everyone should know the signs of a stroke and act “FAST” – if the face droops, an arm weakens or speech changes, it’s time to call 911.

Jennifer says, “Go and check it out, ask the questions, because if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be here.”

Conditions like high blood pressure, stress and being overweight can increase your chances of a stroke.

It’s estimated up to 800,000 people have strokes each year in the U.S. – that’s one about every 40 seconds.

Information courtesy of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.