Several studies over the past several years have shown an increase in strokes among those age 20 to 54 years old according to Dr. Steven Reisman, Director of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center, and a Cardiologist in New York City.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops and there is a decrease in oxygen supply to the brain and brain cells die.  The symptoms of a stroke can occur suddenly and without any warning and the symptoms depend on which part of the brain is damaged. These symptoms can include a sudden headache, change in vision, muscle weakness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, loss of balance and coordination and other neurologic symptoms.

The number one risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure or hypertension. The other risk factors includes diabetes mellitus, smoking, atrial fibrillation and high cholesterol.  In young adults and those in middle age another factor can also be a congenital small hole in the heart from birth called a patent foramen ovale (PFO).

In young patients frequently there is found one of these cause such as hypertension, smoking and a occasionally a PFO. In addition, the increasing incidence of stroke may partly be related to improved medical technology and the increased adoption of MRI as a diagnostic tool to identify strokes in young people.

This increasing incidence of stroke should serve as a warning for young adults and middle age individuals to improve their lifestyle and early diagnosis of risk factors.

Dr. Steven Reisman, a New York City Cardiologist and Director of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center advocates early diagnosis of risk factors for stroke including blood pressure evaluation, blood testing, and potentially echocardiography and carotid ultrasound in prevention.