One-third of those who suffer strokes before the age of 50 will have difficulty adapting to the challenges of daily life even several years later, according to a new Dutch study.
Though strokes are rare in younger people, 10 percent of all strokes occur from age 18 to 50, suggesting to researchers that younger age provides limited protection against a stroke’s devastation.
The study, led by Frank-Erik de Leeuw, associate professor of neurology at the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, tracked the progress of 722 people who first had a stroke between the ages of 18 and 50. A third of the survivors had lingering disability and required assistance an average of nine years after suffering the brain attack.
“Even if patients seem relatively well recovered with respect to motor function, there may still be immense ‘invisible’ damage that leads to loss of independence,” de Leeuw said.
Hemorrhagic strokes (when there’s bleeding in the brain) caused the most disability, followed by ischemic strokes and “mini-strokes.” A second stroke, researchers acknowledged, exacerbated the risk of disability.
“Most doctors view young stroke patients as a group with great recovery opportunities,” de Leeuw said. “But our study is the first to show these almost life-long effects of stroke on performance. This is important to communicate right from the start to patients and families.”
The rate of first strokes in black folks is almost double that of their white counterparts, and strokes tend to occur earlier in life for us.