Strokes affect older Americans more often than younger ones. But, if it happens in a younger person, it could also be another condition. How do you know the difference?
Matt Breen, Reporting, "Dr. Artang We talked about stroke signs and risk factors last month. Now it may not be a big surprise for a person in their late 70's or 80's with many risk factors to have a stroke. What if a stroke happens in a person my age or younger. Would you approach that differently?"
Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "This a very interesting question. While stroke may be the more common among the elderly, other conditions such as migraine headaches, seizure disorders, and something like multiple sclerosis and Lou Gehrig's disease are more common among younger people. We first need to make sure that we have the diagnosis right since the symptoms can sometimes be very similar."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "Let's say you established that this 30 year old person truly had a stroke then what?"
Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "It is highly unusual for a young person to have a stroke not that it does not happen but it is rare and some times related to a few particular conditions we look for. One condition is a brain aneurysm that can happen both in young and old. The other one having a hole in the heart so the right side and left side of the heart that usually are separated by a wall or septum are no longer separated so the blood and sometimes small blood clots could travel from the right side to the left side and then cause a stroke. Most of us have a small hole in between the upper chambers that does not mean much but of the hole is big enough like 4-5 millimeters or larger and a young person presents with stroke it would be considered the most likely cause and there are procedures available to close this whole through the groin without need for open heart surgery."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "How about clotting disorders?"
Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "That was the second thing I was going to mention. Some of us have a stronger tendency to make blood clots in our vascular system. These may show as blood clots in the legs, lungs and occasionally stroke. These conditions are several majority of the time runs in the family among the common ones are familial hypercholesterolemia, factor 5 leiden and Lupus anticoagulant just to mention a few. Now combination of birth control pills or hormone replacement treatment with smoking places the ladies also at increased risk."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "How do you treat that?"
Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "If the person has one of these clotting disorder condition they will benefit from being on blood thinner medication. If it is related to high cholesterol then the cholesterol level needs to be treated very aggressively and if its related to birth control pills hormone replacement pills the person should be taken off the medication and definitely stop smoking regardless of the cause of stroke."
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