More Millennials In The Midwest And West Are Having Strokes

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According to a new study, more young Americans are suffering strokes, a typically older affliction. The rise was especially seen in the Midwest and West.

If you're a young person, you probably don't consider yourself to be at risk for something like a stroke, which also goes by the appropriately scary-sounding name: "brain attack."

But in recent years, there's been a growing number of people aged 18 to 34 who are suffering from strokes, with women being hit with the hardest increase, according to a JAMA Neurology study.

What's more, Scientific American analyzed hospital discharge data to find that being at a high risk for a stroke was associated with living in urban areas in the Midwest and West. The data, which spanned from 2003 to 2012, showed strokes rising by 70 percent in the West and 34 percent in the Midwest. 

The South, which is known as the "stroke belt," has the highest rates of stroke mortality, however, the relative increase was lower than the West and Midwest. 

The data analyzed did not adjust for racial differences or consider levels of health care access (since rural hospitals have been closing more frequently than those in urban areas).

An increase in pollution might be a cause for the Midwest and West's high increases, as previous studies suggest this association.

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About two-thirds of people who suffer a stroke, which is when oxygen and blood flow to your brain is cut off, will receive some type of disability from it — so if this happens to a young person, this could negatively affect their peak-earning years.

"The reasons for these trends are not entirely clear but there are concerns about obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity having a great impact in younger stroke victims," Ralph Sacco, president of the American Academy of Neurology told Scientific American. 

Smoking and obesity are contributing risk factors that accumulate over time.

While there needs to be more research on the relationship between age and risk of stroke, it's important to keep in mind that strokes cause one out of every 20 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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