There has been an alarming rise in the number of younger people suffering strokes, according to a new study. Researchers studying data from two US states found that the average age of a person suffering their first stroke fell from 71 to 69 between 1993 and 2005, and people under the age of 55 now make up nearly a fifth of stroke victims, WebMD reports. The researchers believe the trend has been caused by a rise in diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol levels.
Factors like improved diagnosis may also be contributing, the lead researcher says, but "the rising trend found in our study is of great concern for public health because strokes in younger people translate to greater lifetime disability." Experts say the study highlights the need for younger people to be aware of stroke symptoms. "This is a very disturbing trend and meaningful, strong data," a neurologist tells USA Today. "In older people, we're more likely to make the call (of stroke). Both patients and doctors tend to think, 'It can't be a stroke because the person is too young.' We all have to be on the lookout now." (Read more stroke stories.)