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Young People at Increasingly Higher Risk for Stroke, Report Says

Loyola Neurologist is Co-Author of Report Calling for Increased Awareness, Education and Research

MAYWOOD, Ill.  – Fifteen percent of the most common type of strokes occur in adolescents and young adults, and more young people are showing risk factors for such strokes, according to a report in the journal Neurology.

Neurologist José Biller of Loyola University Medical Center is a co-author of the report, a consensus statement developed by the American Academy of Neurology.

Between 532,000 and 852,000 people age 18 to 44 in the United States have had a stroke. And between 1995-96 and 2007-08, U.S. hospital discharges for stroke among patients age 15 to 44 increased by amounts ranging from 23 percent to 53 percent, depending on age and gender of the group.

“The impact of strokes in this age group is devastating to the adolescent or young adult, their families and society,” Biller said.

Biller is a member of an expert panel the American Academy of Neurology convened to develop a consensus report on the recognition, evaluation and management of ischemic stroke in young adults and adolescents.

About 85 percent of all strokes are ischemic, meaning they are caused by blockages that prevent blood flow to the brain. And more young people have risk factors for ischemic strokes. Those risks include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, abnormal cholesterol levels, congenital heart disease and smoking.

Strokes in young people have a disproportionately large economic impact because they can disable patients before their most productive years. And while coping with the shock of having a stroke, “younger survivors may be dealing with relationships, careers and raising children – issues that require additional awareness and resources,” the consensus report said.

The authors said more emphasis and education is needed about the risk factors and warning signs of stroke in young people in our schools, at the workplace, in primary care physicians’ offices and the media. Given the increasing physical, emotional and financial burden that strokes cause in young people “there will need to be greater research into reducing this burden."

Biller, one of the nation’s leading experts on stroke in young people, is second author of the consensus report. Biller is chair of the Department of Neurology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. First author of the report is Aneesh Singhal, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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