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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Michigan Study Finds the Age of First Stroke is Getting Younger

SPH epidemiologist Dr. Chengwei Li, along with other researchers from the SPH epidemiology and biostatistics departments, published a new study that demonstrates a decline in the age at which people have their first stroke.

Presented recently at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions Annual Meeting, this study looked specifically at ischemic stroke data from seven different hospitals from 2000-2012, accounting for 3.496 cases. Analysis of this data revealed that in the 13-year window, the average age at which stroke first occurred declined significantly from 71.7 years to 69.3 years.

This seems counter-intuitive to data that shows that the rates of stroke have gone down in the past few decades. However, stroke rates have actually increased in the below-55 age group, meaning that more strokes are occurring in younger people.

A possible explanation for this shift in age is that over the span of data, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and type 2 diabetes all became more prevalent among the study population over the years. These conditions raise a person’s risk for stroke, so a rise in risk factors may account for the earlier occurrence of stroke. However, Dr. Li points out that this study only establishes a correlation and not a causative relationship, which requires further research.

The implications of people having strokes earlier in life could be significant. Stroke victims that survive often require an increase in medical care and assistance with the daily tasks of living, so having strokes earlier means that the lifetime burden of the condition is increasing in these individuals.

In light of these findings, Dr. Li calls for efforts to educate people about the factors that put them at risk for stroke, as well as increased measures taken to prevent stroke in the middle-aged population.

Read more here: http://www.livescience.com/56911-age-stroke-declining.html