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March 20, 2013

Stroke in Young Adults: Implications of the Long-term Prognosis

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia; and Department of Neurology, Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia.

JAMA. 2013;309(11):1171-1172. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.2319

Stroke is no longer considered a disease of old age. The mean age of stroke is declining and is now 69 years; the proportion of all strokes among persons younger than 55 years is increasing and is 19%; and the incidence rates of stroke among 20- to 54-year-olds are increasing in the United States and United Kingdom and are 48 (95% CI, 42-53) per 100 000 population among whites and 128 (95% CI, 106-149) per 100 000 population among blacks.1,2 Likely contributing factors are increasing diabetes; obesity; and recreational tobacco, drug, and alcohol use,3,4 as well as enhanced detection among younger people. The looming epidemic of stroke in young adults has prompted the American Academy of Neurology to set up a task force on stroke in young adults4 and the World Stroke Organization to embark on a World Stroke Campaign that addresses the prevailing misconception that “stroke only happens later in life.”5

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