Stroke in Adults Under Age 45
“They’re too young!” is a common line you hear when someone under 45 unexpectedly has a stroke. It’s true that the risk of stroke increases with age, but people of any age can experience one. Here’s a look at how strokes affect younger adults and how rehabilitation can help them recover.
FAST still applies
“FAST” is an easy way to remember the symptoms to look for if you think you or someone else is experiencing a stroke:
- Face drooping: One side of the face might begin to droop or become numb.
- Arm weakness: One arm may become weak and/or numb. If the person tries to raise both arms, one might drift downward.
- Speech difficulty: Talk to yourself out loud or ask the person questions with simple answers like what’s the date, what did they have for lunch, etc.; a person experiencing a stroke may have slurred or broken speech.
- Time to call 911: Even if these symptoms are very slight or go away after a few minutes, always call 911, even if you aren’t sure if it’s an emergency. Successful recovery from a stroke depends greatly on how quickly the person receives medical attention.
Other symptoms can include confusion, dizziness, numbness, trouble seeing, trouble walking, or a severe headache with no obvious cause. If you note any of these symptoms in yourself or someone else, get medical help immediately.
How strokes in young adults are different
For younger adults (think younger than 45), there are several different kinds of strokes, though they are all caused by a lack of blood supply to the brain. The most common is the ischemic stroke, which is caused by blood clots formed in the brain or a blood clot that travelled to the brain.
For example, 25% of strokes in young adults are caused by small tears in a big blood vessel in the neck. The body will form a clot to heal the tear, but if that clot travels to the brain, a stroke can occur. Strokes in younger adults also can be caused by migraines, drugs, smoking, pregnancy, and birth control pills. Heart-related strokes are also common in those under 45—rheumatic heart disease and valve abnormalities are some of the heart conditions that contribute to a stroke.
Rehabilitation isn’t just for “older” strokes
When we think of rehabilitation, most of us think of physical rehab, especially when it comes to younger adults; but rehab options for stroke patients are typically the same regardless of a patient’s age.
Rehabilitation for young stroke survivors might stress fitness activities, as these are often the activities given up following a stroke—and as we know, lack of exercise can increase the risk of a stroke (or in this case, a stroke recurrence). Cognitive rehabilitation is also very important in helping stroke survivors regain work and social functioning after a stroke.
At LifeSource Home Health, we can help stroke survivors of any age with in-home physical, speech and occupational therapy. Contact us to learn more about our in-home healthcare and rehabilitation services.