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Young Oregonians at higher risk for stroke

Strokes are a serious disease affecting Oregonians of all ages. A failure to diagnose a stroke may be fatal or lead to permanent disability. Strokes have long been viewed as a disease of the elderly. However, a new study shows strokes are becoming a midlife health concern as more young adults suffer from the disease.

The study looked at 1.3 million American patients between the ages of 20 and 54 suffering from a first stroke. In 1993 and 1994, the rate was 12.9 percent. The rate jumped to 18.6 percent in 2005. The authors of the study said the increase in "young" strokes may be caused by an increase in associated risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

The frequency of stroke declined overall in older patients, but these numbers were offset by increases in young adults. The increase of MRIs to diagnose strokes and other diseases may be an additional factor in the increased rate of diagnosis.

It is important that Oregon patients receive immediate medical care should a stroke be suspected. Symptoms include headache and trouble with walking or speaking. Numbness of the face, leg or arm may also be present. A person suffering from a stroke may additionally have blurred or blackened vision.

Since strokes have long been viewed as a disease of the elderly, young patients are at a higher risk for a misdiagnoses or a delay in treatment. A negligent physician may fail to order appropriate tests or treatment. Failure to diagnose a stroke can have deadly consequences. Someone injured as a result thereof may be entitled to file a claim against the responsible parties.

Source: ABC News, "More young adults suffering strokes," Cole Petrochko, Oct. 11, 2012

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