Washington | The rate of stroke has more than doubled among Generation X – people born between 1965 and 1974 – in the past 20 years, owing to a significant increase in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, a new US study has warned.
Older baby boomers – those born between 1945 and 1954 – were the “stroke-healthiest generation” with the lowest incidence of ischemic stroke in this age group during the same time period, researchers said.
“The incidence of stroke has decreased significantly overall since 1950, due to the advancement of medicine,” said Joel N Swerdel, lead author of the study conducted at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in the US.
“However, we found that trend to be reversing in younger generations where obesity and diabetes are likely causing an increase in cardiovascular disease,” said Swerdel.
Data from the study was derived from the Myocardial Infarction Data Acquisition System (MIDAS), a statewide database of all admissions to non-federal hospitals in New Jersey for up to 30 years.
The researchers analysed more than 225,000 records of stroke data between 1995 and 2014, separated into five groups, each with a 10-year age span.
The analyses found that persons born in the 20 years before 1945 and those born in the 20 years after 1954 had higher risks of stroke.
Only the group who are now between 60 and 70 years of age saw a reduction in the incidence of stroke during the range of years included in the study.
“A higher incidence of stroke in individuals born before 1945 was not surprising, as they did not benefit from the availability of lipid-lowering drugs, such as statins and anti-hypertensive therapy, as did younger generations,” said principal investigator of the study, John B Kostis, Professor of Cardiology and director of the Cardiovascular Institute of New Jersey.
“However, the increasing incidence of stroke in the youngest generation – those who are between the ages of 35 and 50 – is alarming and merits further research,” Kostis said.
The researchers contribute the upward trend to several factors, including the lack of adherence to prescribed treatment, such as taking medicine to control blood-pressure, and a significant increase in obesity and the prevalence of diabetes, both risk factors of cardiovascular disease.
Although MIDAS includes data from New Jersey, the researchers believe the evidence is indicative of trends across the US.
“New Jersey has a large, diverse population, similar to the overall country,” said Kostis.
They did not find differences in the trends between male and female individuals, nor did they examine rates of stroke based on race or ethnicity.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
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