Unhealthy lifestyle leads to an increase in strokes among the young

CT of brain showing a cerebral infarction. Photo: Depositphotos.com
CT of brain showing a cerebral infarction. Photo: Depositphotos.com

The number of people under the age of 50 who have a stroke has risen sharply in recent years, RTL Nieuws reported on Tuesday.

Some 3,500 people aged 18 to 50 suffer a stroke every year and obesity, unhealthy diets, alcohol use and drugs are among the main causes, RTL said. The figures come from a multi-year survey involving researchers at Radboud university medical centre in Nijmegen.

‘The figures are remarkable,’ Radboudumc professor Frank-Erik de Leeuw said. ‘The number of women suffering a stroke has risen 40% and men 60% in the past 12 years.’

While it is difficult to establish exactly what caused the stroke, healthy living can reduce the risk, De Leeuw said. ‘A stroke is down to things we do to ourselves: smoking, using alcohol, unhealthy eating and using drugs.’

The Trimbos institute, which specialises in addiction and monitors hospital emergency admissions, told RTL that there has been an increase in strokes among youngsters who are taken to hospital with severe headaches or bizarrely high blood pressure.

De Leeuw said that many young people do not realise that using drugs, such as taking a pill at a festival, can lead to a stroke. ‘The risk is bigger the longer you are a user but even a one-off occurrence can lead to an acute increase in blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke,’ he told RTL.

Tuesday is European Stroke Awareness Day.

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