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Acute Ischemic Stroke Prevalence Up in Younger Americans

Increasing prevalence of stroke risk factors also seen

patient on oxygen

TUESDAY, April 11, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Acute ischemic stroke is increasingly prevalent in Americans under 65, as is the percentage of those with three or more stroke risk factors, according to a study published online April 10 in JAMA Neurology.

Researchers used a database of U.S. hospital stays extracted from billing records. The 2003 to 2004 data included 362,339 stroke hospitalizations. The 2011 to 2012 information included 421,815 stroke hospitalizations.

The researchers found that from 2003 to 2004 in this sample, 141,474 individuals from 18 to 65 were admitted to hospitals for stroke. By 2011 to 2012, that number had risen to 171,386. Hospitalizations for ischemic stroke increased 41.5 percent in men 35 to 44 years old. During the study period, the percentage of people with three or more stroke risk factors roughly doubled for all age groups. The rate of hemorrhagic strokes remained basically stable during the study period, however. The one exception was in the 45 to 54 age group. There was a slight decline in hemorrhagic strokes for men and blacks in that age group.

"Credible alternatives may explain what appears to be an increase in stroke among young men and women, but is not," James Burke, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who co-wrote an accompanying journal editorial, told HealthDay. "MRIs are more widely used, which can lead to an increase in diagnosis of stroke." In addition, the United States doesn't have extensive databases that track patients and medical conditions, he said. "Our ability to make strong conclusions is surprisingly limited since we don't have national health data on everybody," Burke added. "When we are making these measurements, we are looking at a small chunk of the population."

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