SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A young adult’s likelihood of facing a stroke increases due to many rising factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, drug and alcohol abuse, and obesity.

Young age doesn’t diminish the possibility of having a stroke. “Over the past 10 years, there’s been a 44% increase in young adults being admitted to the hospital for strokes. Today, 1 in 7 strokes occur in adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15-49,” said Dr. Rajiv Padmanabhan, neurologist, Department of NeurologyBaystate Health.

How to minimize stroke risk factors, according to Baystate Health:

  • Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes
  • Keeping a healthy heart by reducing salt intake and saturated fats
  • Quit smoking

Strokes in younger people are less likely caused by conditions and are rarely inherited. Dr. Padmanabhan explains, “for example, 1 in 4 of all people have small holes in the walls of their heart. Called Patent Foramen Ovale, or PFOs, these holes can occasionally allow a clot to pass from the heart to the brain and lead to a stroke. For many young stroke victims, PFO may be identified as the potential cause of a stroke.”

At any age, a clotting disorder can occur and lead to a stroke. “Some disorders rarely run in a family, while others simply develop,” he said. “Either way, if the condition causes your blood to clot more easily, the risk of stroke increases even at a young age.”

Dissection, or tearing, of the blood vessels in the neck and sudden severe headaches are other causes of a stroke.

“While certain medical conditions can cause tears, they’re most often related to trauma to the neck, often by young people engaged in sports or other physical activities,” said Dr. Padmanabhan.

“In these instances, while stroke symptoms can be similar, there could be head or neck pain in addition, and it is important to get help immediately. There’s no ‘walking off’ a stroke,” he added.

Baystate Health recommends calling an ambulance immediately if you or someone is exhibiting signs of a stroke.

The following is a BE FAST guide that shows how to detect a stroke:

  • Balance: a sudden loss of balance or coordination
  • Eyes: sudden changes in vision including loss of vision in one or both eyes, or double vision
  • Face: sudden weakness or drooping on one side of the face
  • Arms: sudden weakness in one arm or leg
  • Speech: sudden slurred speech or difficulty speaking or understanding words
  • Time: Call 911 quickly if someone is experiencing any of these symptoms