The common perception about stroke is that it's a condition more prevalent in older adults. However, this has seemingly changed; a recent study featured on ScienceDaily.com reveals that stroke has been affecting a younger crowd.

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio looked into first-time cases of stroke in Northern Kentucky residents between ages 20 and 54 during three separate periods. They found that the average age of people who experience the condition dropped from 71 years old in 1993 to 69 years old in 2005. Alarmingly, people under 55 now form a greater percentage of stroke victims.

Study author Dr. Brett Kissela explains, "The reasons for this trend could be a rise in risk factors such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol. Other factors, such as improved diagnosis through the increased use of MRI imaging may also be contributing. Regardless, the rising trend found in our study is of great concern for public health because strokes in younger people translate to greater lifetime disability."

Although the statistics may seem dreary, the good news is that a change of lifestyle can help protect you from stroke. The best weapons are regular exercise and a good diet. Lessen your cholesterol intake, and try to wean yourself off bad habits such as smoking and drinking. Lastly, regularly visit your doctor for full physical checkups, as these may help you monitor your overall health.

(Photo by Rach via Flickr Creative Commons)

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