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Why You’re More Likely to Have a Stroke Than Your Parents

The prospect of a stroke is a scary thing, and it’s a bigger threat than many of us realize. We focus a lot of attention on heart attacks, heart disease, and cancers, but stroke risk is another health issue that’s looming. Though we typically associate it with old age, people are having strokes at younger and younger ages. In fact, new data shows that while we’ve made some significant progress in lowering the risk in older people, younger Americans are having more strokes than ever.

What happens when you have a stroke?

MRI Image of a brain, where a stroke takes place

MRI Image of a brain, where a stroke takes place Suffering a stroke could have serious consequences. | iStock.com/Highwaystarz-Photography

A stroke, of course, occurs when your brain cells are starved of oxygen. This can happen when blood flow is cut off, similar to what occurs when you have a heart attack. As a result, brain cells die, and the victim can experience memory loss, disabled motor function, or even die. Still, most people, especially younger folks, don’t consider them a serious threat. Well, as mentioned, the data is showing some disturbing trends.

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, older Americans are having fewer and fewer strokes as a result of preventative measures and better treatment. Conversely, younger Americans are having more strokes — which is curious considering the progress we’ve made in the older population. So, what’s behind the generational gap?

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