This article provides an overview of the evaluation and management of ischemic stroke in young adults, with an emphasis on cervical artery dissection, patent foramen ovale, and hypercoagulable states.
The incidence of ischemic stroke in young patients is increasing, although the reasons remain unclear. Patients with ischemic stroke at a young age are more likely to die at an early age than their peers. Well-established vascular risk factors are prevalent in young stroke patients. Recent studies have informed the treatment of dissection and patent foramen ovale among others. The utility of testing for hypercoagulable states in ischemic stroke is unclear.
Ischemic stroke in young adults is a major public health problem. A wide range of etiologies of ischemic stroke is found in this age group. A careful history, thorough examination, and methodical workup are essential. Specific management is predicated on identification of the underlying etiology.