Strokes Are Increasing in People Under 65

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May 24, 2024 – Strokes – a medical emergency typically linked to older adults – are increasing among younger people. 

A study by the CDC released Thursday said self-reported incidents of stroke increased 14.6% among people ages 18 to 44 and about 15.7% among people ages 45 to 64 from 2011-2013 to 2020-2022. 

The data about strokes was included in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. People taking part in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System were asked, “Has a doctor or other health professional ever told you that you had a stroke?” 

Across all age groups, reports of strokes went up 7.8% during that time period. That’s a reversal from 2006-2010, when strokes across all age groups went down 3.7%.

Researchers said obesity and the opioid epidemic may be behind the rise in strokes among younger Americans.

From 1999-2000 to 2017-2018, obesity went up from 27.5% to 43% among males and from 33.4% to 41.9% among females, the CDC said. The highest obesity rate in 2017-2018 was 44.8%, among people ages 40 to 59. The researchers also noted an increase in hospitalizations from 2006 to 2015 among people under 45 for strokes related to opioid use. 

The study found demographic differences in strokes during the study period from 2011-2013 to 2020-2022. 

Reports of stroke went up 9.3% among women, 6.2% among men, 7.8% among Black adults, 7.2% among White adults, 16.1% among Hispanic people, and 52.3% among Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders. Reports of strokes went up in 10 states, with Ohio (20.9%) and Tennessee (20.7%) reporting the biggest increases.

“Identifying and understanding demographic factors associated with stroke, and disparities in stroke prevalence, might help focus programmatic and clinical interventions to improve the prevention and treatment of stroke at state and national levels,” the study authors said. 

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the federal agency.