According to an American Heart Association survey, young adults have a disconnect about how their lifestyle choices affect their chances of stroke, a leading cause of death and disability in the United States.
More than 1,200 adults between the ages of 18 and 44 were surveyed on their thoughts about health and stroke risk.
Of the 18-24 year-old group, most expressed desire to live a healthy and long life — 98 years was their average desire — but one-third of those said they don’t think their unhealthy behaviors today will affect their risk of stroke later. Eighteen percent couldn’t even name one stroke risk factor.
Ralph Sacco, M.D., neurologist and president of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, said in a press release:
“This survey shows the dangerous disconnect that many young Americans have about how their behaviors affect their risks for stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Starting healthy behaviors at a young age is critical to entering middle age in good shape. The investment you make in your health now will have a large payoff as you age. We want everyone – especially young people – to strive to avoid stroke, which can affect anyone at any age.”
The survey also indicated that people become more aware of their overall health as they age:
- In the 35-44 year-old group, 22 percent were not worried about cardiovascular diseases.
- In the 18-24 year-old group, 43 percent said they weren’t concerned.
Lifestyle Choices to Lower Stroke Risk
Healthy lifestyle choices can lower risk of a first stroke by almost 80 percent, according to American Heart Association/American Stroke Association guidelines. Those choices include:
- a low-fat diet high in fruits and vegetables
- regular exercise
- not smoking
- maintaining a healthy body weight
- drinking alcohol and sugary beverages in moderation
Next: Stroke Risk Factors and Warning Signs