Background: Although ischemic stroke incidence has been in decline over the past 60 years, the same has not been observed among individuals younger than 55 years. Recent reports have shown a substantial increase in young stroke incidence, yet little is known about young stroke survivors. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the disease comorbidity profile and secondary prevention practices in stroke survivors younger than 50 years. Methods: This study used a retrospective data analysis of secondary stroke prevention practices among young stroke survivors using data from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey. Results: Approximately 57% of the sample reported having hypertension; 33%, high cholesterol; 13%, diabetes; and 7%, heart disease. In the past 12 months, more than 60% had seen a general doctor, neurologist, or specialist, and more than 75% were following low-dose aspirin advice or taking prescribed medications for blood pressure or cholesterol. Similarly, 84% had their blood pressure checked, and 66% had their cholesterol checked, but only 50% had a fasting test for their blood sugar in the past 12 months. Conclusions: Many young stroke survivors exhibit comorbid disease conditions that are similar to older stroke survivors. A large percentage are engaged in general chronic disease and secondary stroke prevention practices, yet less than two-thirds had seen a general doctor in the past 12 months. Primary care doctors and other health professionals are critical to the implementation of disease management strategies that consider their age, secondary stroke risk, expected life spans, and other issues that differ from older adult stroke survivors.
Gayenell S. Magwood, PhD RN FAAN, is Professor, College of Nursing, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC.
Brandi M. White, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Health Professions, College of Health Professions, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Charles Ellis, PhD CCC-SLP, at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a Professor and Director of Communication Equity and Outcomes Laboratory, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
This work was supported by a grant from the American Heart Association Strategically Focused Research Network Grant #15SFDRN25870000.
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.