If you think that a Stroke only affect the frail and elderly, think again. A Stroke can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere. In 2016, 677 Singaporeans from age 15-49 years old suffered a Stroke. This is an increase from 575 Singaporeans suffering from Stroke in 2007 (National Registry of Disease Office, Annual Stroke Report 2016). The number of younger adults and adolescents getting Stroke has risen over the years.
The lifetime impact of stroke on younger adults also carries substantial costs to the individual and their families. A 2014 study, Follow-Up of Transient Ischemic Attack and Stroke Patients and Unelucidated Risk Factor Evaluation (FUTURE) showed that even after 10 years, about 1 of 8 patients (12.9%) with an Ischemic or Intracranial Hemorrhagic Stroke at a young age was not able to function independently. In patients with transient Ischemic Stroke, this was 1 of 15 (6.5%) survivors.
When younger adults(under 45 years old) suffer from a Stroke, it is important to find the cause as there is an increased possibility of a recurrent Stroke. What are the risk factors of Strokes in young adults?
Risk Factors of Stroke in Young Adults
- Heart Conditions: Cardiogenic causes (Rheumatic heart disease, heart valve abnormalities) represent approximately 20–30% of all Ischemic Strokes, a condition when an artery stops supplying blood to a part of a brain. This happens due to blood clots in the artery caused by cholesterol plaque build-up and usually affects young adults under the age of 45.
- Migraine: Even though migraine-induced Stroke is uncommon, it usually affects younger women. Migraine is caused by internal factors like genetics, hormonal imbalance or external factors like stress.
- Dyslipidemia: Dyslipidemia happens when there is an increase of lipids (fatty substance) in your bloodstream. This is caused by a lifestyle diet.
- Smoking: Smoking has an adverse effect on your body – it thickens your blood, increase the risk of blood clot and restrict oxygen in your blood.
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): Hypertension can damage your arteries and cause them to be narrower. This will lead to an increased risk of Stroke.
- High Blood Cholesterol: With high blood cholesterol, there is a higher risk of the cholesterol depositing itself in the walls of the artery. This cause the heart to work harder to pump blood through the arteries leading to hypertension and increasing the risks of stroke.
The Awareness Gap
“If you think that the pursuit of good health is expensive and time consuming, try illness.” – Lee Swanson
According to Prudential Singapore’s Health Poll, more than 70% of people in Singapore believe that they are healthy. However, the survey has also shown that the majority do not consume enough vegetables and fruits in their diet and that 1 in 3 Singaporeans are not exercising enough. There is still a gap in awareness when it comes to personal health matters. Prevention is better than cure so start making these changes in your lifestyle.
- Balanced Diet – Include whole grains, more leafy vegetables and fruits in your diet. Reduce intake of salt and sugar in your diet. Find out how you can plan your diet using Health Promotion Board’s My Healthy Plate.
- Exercise – It is recommended that you have at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly. Set aside 20 minutes of your time every day to fulfil this!
- Not Smoking – Avoid smoking at all costs.
- Get adequate sleep – Findings have shown that Singaporeans are sleep-deprived and they are not getting adequate sleep due to long hours of work. Not having adequate sleep contributes to multiple health risks like increased risk of heart diseases, heart attack, heart failure, diabetes, hypertension and stroke.
- Work-Life Balance – Find time to destress and power down. Studies have shown that 9 in 10 Singaporeans do not know how to “power down” and relax.
Eating healthy and getting fit does not have to be expensive or time consuming. It will require time and effort but you can spend more time with your friends or family to cook healthier food at home or exercise together.
We also recommend reading Your Guide to Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS) and Apps For Diabetics: 5 Aspects To Look Out For.
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