The fight against one of the nation’s leading killers, stroke, has been touted as a public health success story since it has been decreasing among American seniors, dropping from the fourth to the fifth most common cause of death in the U.S.
But this statistic masks a chilling and dramatic increase in strokes hitting the middle-agers, a group thought to be relatively low-risk for brain-damaging blood clots. And while it’s true that stroke deaths are going down, that’s because the increasing number of younger people stricken by them are more likely to survive, although disabled, than older stroke victims.
Among Americans ages 15 to 44, the incidence of stroke has risen up to 53 percent. And the proportion of strokes in the under-65 population has gone up from 25 to 31 percent. Doctors say the reasons for this alarming trend are clear. Americans are becoming obese, diabetic, and suffering high blood pressure at a younger age than in decades past.