If you were having a stroke, would you know it? Almost three quarters of people under the age of 45 might not recognize the symptoms of this serious health problem, according to a survey conducted by the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The survey asked people what they would do within the first three hours of experiencing weakness, numbness, vision problems, or difficulty speaking. 73% of respondents under 45 said that they would put off going to the hospital, instead waiting to see if they felt better without treatment.
Putting off treatment after a stroke can greatly increase the risk of irreversible damage or death. Many doctors say that patients have a “golden window” of three hours to get to the hospital after the first sign of a stroke, and that getting medical attention within this time frame gives patients the best chance of recovering with minimal damage.
Many people under the age of 45 may believe they are too young to have a stroke, and while it’s true that risk increases with age, strokes can affect people at any point in their lives. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 34% of people hospitalized for a stroke in 2009 were under the age of 65. There are a number of factors that can increase your risk for a stroke at a younger age, including heredity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking. Even seemingly healthy younger people may be at an increased risk for a stroke due to certain medical conditions.
Act FAST Stroke Detection
So as a younger person, how do you determine if the symptoms you’re experiencing are the first signs of a stroke? Doctors often use the mnemonic device “Act FAST”, meaning that if you experience or notice someone with Facial drooping, Arm weakness, or Speech difficulty, it’s Time to call 911. However, these aren’t the only possible symptoms of a stroke. Other warning signs include weakness on one side of the body, numbness, sudden confusion, or severe headaches.
Even if you are not entirely sure the symptoms you are experiencing are due to a stroke, it is better to seek medical attention than to ignore potential warning signs. Over 800,000 people are admitted to US hospitals due to strokes every year, and stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the number one cause of adult disability in our country. Get help as soon as possible and you dramatically reduce your risk of a slow recovery and permanent disability.