Stroke Risk Higher in Younger People With Head and Neck Injuries [Video]

Strokes not only impact older adults but younger people as well. A recent study reports that younger people with head and neck injuries are at a higher risk of having a stroke. Christine Fox, a Doctor of Medicine, and her colleagues from the University of California San Francisco, found that 2.8 was the relative stroke risk in the four weeks after a neck or head injury as compared to other emergency visits for trauma-related injuries for people between the ages of 20 to 49. The study examined 1.3 million medical records of young people under the age of 50 who were treated at emergency departments for head and neck injuries.

At the International Stroke Conference, Dr. Fox and her colleagues stated that the results showed that 48 per 100,000 people ages 18 to 25 and the overall stroke incident rate was 11 per 100,000 neck and head injuries for patients under 50. Heather Fullerton, a Doctor of Medicine, from the University of California San Francisco said that the group compared the four-week stroke rate to the annual rate for the general population. She found that those rates were above the national average for children and young adults.

The study that looked at if younger people with a head and neck injury had a higher stroke rate found that average age of people who suffered a stoke was 37. That age was compared to the average age of 24 for people who did not have a stroke. Dr. Fox said that these results are important because strokes after trauma might be preventable. The link between strokes and trauma are not clear. However, the study did report that head and neck injuries can lead to tears in blood vessels that lead to the brain. These tears can lead to blood clots that could cause stroke. If the tears are found after the injury occurs, people can be given anti-clot medicine to prevent the clot. The study also found that 10 percent of people with strokes had this type of tear even though the tear was not found in every person who was studied before they had a stroke.

Fullerton mentioned that the link has not been quantified and the link is only the first step in primary stroke prevention in people who suffer trauma. Bruce Ovbiagele, a Doctor of Medicine and Chief of Neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston said that the implication is that emergency physicians need to be aware of the risk and tell patients who may think that stroke is only a problem in old age. He told Medpress that it is important to discuss the symptoms of stroke when the patient is at a high risk for one.

A study performed by Dr. Fox and her colleagues that examined if younger people who have had a head and neck injury have a higher risk of stroke looked at 1.3 million medical records of people under the age of 50 who were treated at emergency trauma departments with head or neck injuries. The results of the study found that 11 out of every 100,000 people studied had a stroke four-weeks after being diagnosed with a head or neck injury. Dr. Fox said that the next step in the study is to examine the risk of stroke after certain types of trauma such as a car crash and injuries such as a fractured vertebrae to see who has a higher stroke risk.

By Jordan Bonte

MedPage Today
e! Science News

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