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STUDY: Millennials Are Suffering an Alarming Number of Strokes

Millennials aren't old enough to be having lots of strokes. Generation X isn't even in that age range yet.

However, an analysis by Scientific American has found that the oft-maligned younger generation is suffering from strokes at an alarming rate:

Not all of Mitchell Elkind’s stroke patients are on social security. In recent years he has treated devastating attacks in people as young as 18. And he is not alone. A growing body of research indicates strokes among U.S. millennials -- ages 18 to 34 -- have soared in recent years.

But an analysis by Scientific American has revealed significant differences in where these strokes are occurring, depending both on region and whether people live in rural or urban settings. The investigation, which used data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), was reviewed by five stroke experts and found that the West and Midwest have seen especially worrisome increases among younger adults. Moreover, large cities appear to have seen bigger increases than rural areas.

 

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The findings “are intriguing and interesting,” says Elkind, a stroke expert at Columbia University and New York–Presbyterian Hospital who reviewed the analysis. “I would have expected it to be more uniform across the country.” Ralph Sacco, president of the American Academy of Neurology, notes that “data has been scant” about strokes among younger people. “There has been mounting evidence from different studies suggesting that even though the incidence and mortality of stroke is on the decline, the rates may not be dropping quite as much -- and even [may be] increasing -- among younger populations,” Sacco says.

“The reasons for these trends are not entirely clear but there are concerns about obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity having a greater impact in younger stroke victims.” Drug use may be another factor, he adds.

Interesting. The fitness problem among millennials does seem pretty clear and widespread. But, to the degree that stress can be a risk factor for strokes, perhaps Sacco should screen for political ideology as well.