Are Stroke Symptoms Different for Young People?

March 11, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Ann Miller, M.D. contributes to topics such as Neurology.

When 22-year-old Danny Dominguez started feeling pain and throbbing in his head along with some weakness, he never considered it could be symptoms of stroke. Days later, he found himself in an ambulance being rushed to the emergency room with stroke, partially due to increased blood clotting from COVID-19.

Danny’s story is a cautionary tale for young people. According to Ann Miller, M.D., neurologist at Hackensack University Medical Center, while stroke symptoms are generally the same for young people as they are for older people, the real difference is stroke in younger people is usually caused by different underlying issues.

Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease.

“We’re often looking for different things in young people, and they’re often things that are asymptomatic,” says Dr. Miller. “Issues like genetic clotting disorders or structural abnormalities in the heart may not manifest symptoms until older age. What’s most important for young people is that they follow up with their doctor on any warning symptoms they experience.”

What to Do if You Have Risk Factors

If you have risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or heart disease, you should be aware of the potential symptoms. Common stroke symptoms for younger and older people include:

  • Language deficits or loss of speech
  • Facial droop
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Loss of sensation on one side of the body

Similar to symptoms, stroke prevention also does not differ much for younger and older people. To decrease your risk of stroke, living a healthy lifestyle is paramount:

  • Limit salt and eat foods low in cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat.
  • Include as many fruits and veggies in your diet as you can.
  • Stay active and get the CDC-recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week.
  • If you smoke, stop. Here are some tips.
  • Consider limiting alcohol.

“It’s the things we’re always told to do: Live a healthy lifestyle, get plenty of rest and exercise,” says Dr. Miller.

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.