NEW STUDY. During the last twenty years, the risk of having a stroke relapse has been cut by half in people under 55 years. Meanwhile, stroke has become more common among younger people in the population. This is shown in a new study published in the International Journal of Stroke.
“It is a challenge for research to try to prevent stroke”, says Professor Annika Rosengren to the daily new paper Dagens Nyheter.
Every year, around 30 000 Swedes get a stroke caused by a blood clot or bleeding in the brain. It is the first stroke for most of these people. Survival rates in the Western world has increased, but stroke can lead to severe disability. Those affected are mostly over 65 years of age, but the stroke has become more common among younger people.
Annika Rosengren, Professor of Medicine at the Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, led the study funded by the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation:
“Despite the fact that stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases, is a deases of aging, it is still a number of younger peple who suffer a stroke every year. But since the group is relatively small, it often disappears when studying these diseases and therefore we have specifically looked at people who were younger than 55 when they had a stroke”, she says to DN.
The study is register-based, and includes over 17 000 people between 18 and 54 years of age in Sweden who suffered ischemic stroke (cerebral infarction due to a blood clot in the brain) between 1987 and 2006. Of these, 14 per cent had a new stroke within four years. The risk of recurrence was slightly higher for men than for women.
The risk of relapse has been cut in than half over twenty years. For men, the risk has decreased by 55 percent and for women by 59 percent. Annika Rosengren argues that the reduced risk may be due to the fact that treatments for stroke have become better, but also due to care becoming better at treating high blood pressure atrial fibrillation and othert ailments that increases the risk of stroke, which may allay the difficulty level of the stroke .
Although the total number of people affected by a stroke in Sweden decreases, the disease increases between the ages of 35-44. The cause is not clear. The disease can be inherited, and there are several known risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and high blood fats.
“There are several forms of stroke and although many people who suffer have no obvious risk factors, we know that lifestyle factors such as sedentary and obesity increases the risk of stroke”, Annika Rosengren says to DN.
She also notes that the number of young stroke survivors will increase in the future, and that it is a challenge for society to avoid that they get disability or relaps.