Ischemic Stroke as a Health Concern in Young Adults

Andrea L. Senger


Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and one of the leading causes of long-term disability. Surprising to many, recent data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample showed that 4.9% of all strokes in the United States occurred in individuals who were between 18 and 44 years of age. Moreover, stroke in young adults appears to be increasing. Therefore, a better understanding of the root causes of stroke in this age group, as well as detailed examination of outcome, was sought via a review of contemporary research. While studies highlight traditional risk factors such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and smoking to be the most predominant risk factors, lesser known risk factors such as oral contraceptive use, alcohol consumption, and migraine play a role as well. Risk of mortality and recurrence after stroke are favorable in the young; however, functional ability, occupational status, and quality of life may be compromised. Studies have shown that many of the risk factors for stroke in the young adult are modifiable. Therefore, this study suggests a need for increased stroke awareness and education in order to decrease the negative affects of modifiable vascular risk factors associated with stroke in the young adult.