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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

These Stroke Risks are Hiding in Your Medical History

Posted By: Advancing Care

Medically reviewed by Mill Etienne, MD

Emerging research suggests the traditional markers we often associate with stroke, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, may not tell the full story for younger adults experiencing this life-threatening event.

Young people are less likely to present promptly or utilize 911 or prehospital systems. Even after arrival to the hospital, diagnosis is more likely to be delayed or missed due to lack of traditional stroke risk factors to raise suspicion.

silent stroke risks

Nontraditional Risk Factors Emerge

Recent studies reveal that younger stroke patients, under age 45, are more likely to have more "nontraditional" risk factors compared to older adults. These include:

  • Trauma or Sudden Neck Movements
  • Migraine with other disturbances (aura) that can include flashes of light, blind spots and other vision changes or tingling in your hand or face.
  • Conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can disrupt the body's defenses and contribute to stroke risk, particularly in younger women.
  • Inflammatory conditions can affect the intracranial blood vessels and increase the risk of stroke.
  • Heart valve disease, which can lead to blood clots and increased stroke risk for both young men and women.
  • Kidney disease and related complications can heighten stroke risk in young people, particularly younger men.
  • Clotting and genetic disorders
  • Smoking, Alcohol or Drug Use
  • Heart abnormalities

It's important to note that while these nontraditional factors play a significant role, having these conditions, like migraines, does not inevitably lead to a stroke.

Empowering Younger Patients

Younger patients can also play a part in reducing their stroke risk by taking the following steps:

  • Discuss personal/family medical history, including conditions like migraines or autoimmune disorders, with providers.
  • Advocate for comprehensive stroke risk assessments, even if traditional markers seem normal.
  • Work closely with specialists to manage existing conditions and ensure proper treatment.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle with exercise, balanced diet, and stress management.
  • Stay vigilant for stroke warning signs and seek immediate medical attention.

Westchester Medical Center is a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center, and Good Samaritan Hospital, HealthAlliance Hospital and MidHudson Regional Hospital are Primary Stroke Centers. Their dedicated stroke teams are on call 24/7 to provide life-saving neurological and neurosurgical care for patients experiencing acute stroke. Learn more about the WMCHealth stroke care locations.