Yes, people under 50 have strokes too
US research suggests that doctors are often as surprised as the rest of us to discover that young people can and do have strokes.
Researchers looked at the cases of 57 stroke patients aged 16-50 and found that eight were incorrectly diagnosed with conditions including vertigo, migraine, drunkenness, seizure, an inner-ear disorder or other conditions
'We have seen several young patients who were presented to emergency rooms with stroke-like symptoms within three to six hours of symptom onset, and these patients did not get proper treatment due to misdiagnosis. The first hours are really critical,' said researcher Dr. Seemant Chaturvedi of Wayne State University in Detroit.
Because the typical stroke victim is age 55 or older, ER staff may not suspect a stroke when a patient under 45 arrives with telltale symptoms, he said.
Recognising a stroke
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Symptoms include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arms or legs, difficulties with speech or sight, dizziness and loss of balance or coordination, and severe headache.
Stroke is the third most common cause of death in England and Wales, after heart disease and cancer and a major cause of disability: over 300,000 people are living with moderate to severe disabilities as a result of stroke.
With over 150,000 people in the UK having a stroke every year, the Department of Health, and The Stroke Association, has launched a campaign to promote public awareness of stroke. It's called FAST and focuses on three key symptoms:
- Facial weakness - can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
- Arm weakness - can the person raise both arms?
- Speech problems - can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
- Time to call 999. If the person has failed any one of these tests, you must call 999.
Why the need for speed?
Blood-clot busting drugs must be given within three hours of the onset of symptoms although they're not available in all hospitals. Ambulance staff are briefed on which hospitals have 24 hours stroke care so it's better to call 999 than drive someone yourself to ensure they get to the right hospital.
Page created on February 19th, 2009
Page updated on December 1st, 2009