Strokes on the rise among younger Americans

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Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 5:52 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - When you think of someone having a stroke, you probably picture an older person.

But in the United States, more and more people under the age of 50 are suffering from strokes. No matter the age, strokes are a growing public health issue.

A healthy Tony Caporale was one of nearly 800,000 people to experience a life-threatening health scare.

“My wife was about to get up for work. I was just going to say something normal, ‘Have a good day or something,’ but my words couldn’t come out,” Caporale recalled.

At 61 years old, Caporale suffered a mild stroke and was taken to the hospital. He said his health scare worsened overnight.

“I had a major stroke,” Caporale said. “I don’t even remember it. I just was waking up and two nurses were right in my face saying, ‘We’ve got to get you to some kind of operating room.’”

According to the American Heart Association, every minute that goes by during a stroke, about 1.7 million brain cells die.

Caporale was transferred to Henry Ford Hospital, where Dr. Alex Chebl said time was of the essence.

“Most patients who have this kind of stroke actually don’t recover as well as he has,” Chebl said. “The reason he has recovered so well was that time factor. The sooner you come to the hospital, the more likely we are able to rescue as much brain tissue as possible.”

Chebl said major advances in stroke care make it possible to remove clots from the brain and restore normal blood flow in seconds.

“And every year we are learning that we can treat and help more and more patients, even those with big strokes,” Chebl said.

That means people like Caporale have a better chance at avoiding brain damage or death.

“The next thing I know I’m waking up and I’m cured,” Caporale said.

Medical experts encourage people to think FAST to avoid long-term damage from a stroke.

  • F - Face. A giveaway you’re having a stroke is facial drooping or numbness on one side of the face.
  • A - Arm. You may notice one arm being weaker than the other or harder to move.
  • S - Speech. This includes any changes in speech, like slurring or trouble coming up with words.
  • T- Time. If you have these symptoms, it’s time to call 911.

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