Strokes Increasing for a Surprising Age Group

Strokes don't affect just your grandparents

There is a new warning about the rise in strokes for a surprising age group. Strokes are declining in older Americans, but they're skyrocketing for younger adults.

A new study by researchers at the University of Southern California found that over 10 years, there has been a 44-percent increase in strokes for 25- to 44-year-olds, while strokes for those over 65 years old decreased.

Cassie Scantlin was only 21 years old old when she suffered a stroke.

The University of North Texas student was home alone when she says her body didn't feel right.

"I look down at my hand and I saw my receipts like floating out of my hand and I was like, 'Why can't I move anything?' My entire body felt electric," said Scantlin.

"I felt like someone was trying to control my body. I couldn't move anything," she said.

Her family quickly got her to Denton Regional Medical Center, where staff eventually transferred her to The Medical Center of Plano and the team run by Dr. Vallabh Janardhan, director of the Texas Stroke Institute.

"We normally think strokes happen in older people, and for a 21-year-old to have a stroke, which is a heart attack of the brain, is a pretty unique situation," said Janardhan.

However, the number of young stroke patients is on the rise.

Among the risk factors, according to scientists, are sports injuries, hormonal changes from birth control, undiagnosed heart defects and an increase in diabetes and obesity.

"More than 80 percent of people with a blockage in a brain blood vessel either die or are disabled for life. So Cassie is very fortunate to have gotten treatment quickly and get to the right place at the right time," said Janardhan.

Scantlin is still numb on the right side of her body, but her progress has been steady.

She said she hopes her story is a wake-up call for others.

"Everyone knows what a heart attack is but not everyone knows what a stroke is. Strokes are not usually talked about nearly as much because usually it's people's grandparents having them, not their roommates," said Scantlin.

Experts say be familiar with the signs of a stroke.

The symptoms spell "FAST": Facial drooping; Arm weakness; Speech difficulty; Time to call 9-1-1.

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