Doctor says strokes increasing among people under 45 with family history

By Tsai Shu-yuan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mon, Sep 10, 2018 - Page 3

Young people with a family history of strokes have a higher risk of having one and should have regular medical checkups, said Kao Ting-hsien (高定憲), a doctor in Taichung.

Over the past few years, the number of Taiwanese stroke patients younger than 45 has increased by nearly 10 percentage points, said Kao, a neurosurgeon at Lin Shin Hospital.

Most of these younger people come from families with a medical history of strokes, have a diet high in sugar and fried foods, and do not exercise regularly, he said.

Such people should measure their blood pressure regularly and exercise, which reduces the stroke risk by improving the flexibility of cerebral blood vessels, Kao added.

Headache and dizziness are early warning signs of a stroke, while difficulty speaking, drooping on one side of the face, or impeded mobility or loss of consciousness are indications that a stroke has already occurred, he said.

Kao said Lin Shin Hospital recently treated a stroke patient aged 36.

The man surnamed Hung (洪) was a cram-school teacher who was slightly overweight and ate too much meat, although he did not use tobacco or alcohol, Kao said.

Hung was in the middle of a work day when he began experiencing flu-like symptoms — headache and dizziness — which in retrospect were signs of having a stroke, Kao said.

Over time, the patient began to fall repeatedly, and lost his ability to speak or move the right side of his body, Kao added.

He was admitted to the emergency room, where doctors assessed that he scored an 11 on the Glasgo Coma Scale and had a large blood clot near the left basal ganglia, he said.

After non-invasive procedures failed to keep the symptoms from progressing, the medical team performed stereotactic surgery to extract the clot, stabilizing the patient, he said.

Hung regained his speech a week later and was discharged from the hospital after two more weeks, Kao said, adding that the patient has 50 percent of the muscle strength on his right side and can speak in complete sentences.

The patient was fortunate in being young and having the stroke discovered relatively early, Kao said, adding that the man was likely to have an 80 percent recovery with six months of therapy.