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Stroke is no longer an old-age disease; an unhealthy lifestyle means 15-25 per cent of all strokes now hit those below 40.
After 39-year-old IT professional Vinod Sharma suffered from a brain stroke a few months ago. He joined work after recovery, but lost his coveted job a few weeks ago. The multi-national company in which Sharma was a programmer told him that his cognitive skills had suffered.
Strokes are no longer an old-age disease. An estimated 15 to 25% of all strokes now occur in those younger than 40.
Long hours at work, no leaves and extreme amount of stress in the software industry had made Sharma a serial smoker and dependent on alcohol. “Few months ago, when I woke up one morning, I felt numbness in my right hand. After close to three to four hours, the stroke struck,” Vinod told DNA.
Vinod’s clinician, Dr Bhushan Joshi, from Columbia Asia Hospital in Pune said that the patient had come after a delay of close to 12 hours. “It is very important to treat stroke within four hours of the attack,” Dr Joshi said.
While Vinod was on leave for three months and joined back with verve, he was suddenly asked to leave the company. They cited him as a ‘bad performer.’ He has ended up spending close to Rs 3lakh for his treatment and rehabilitation.
“Stroke is not so common in young age,” says Dr Joshi, adding that Vinod suffered from Hyperhomocystenemia, where there is an increased tendency of clot formation in blood. The occluded blood vessels lead to a stroke. While we do not know how the condition is caused, alcohol and smoking tend to aggravate it.
“Vinod had a tough time recovering,” said Dr Joshi, “He was not able to use his hands. He was unable to walk. He was not able to understand what we were speaking. He started forming sentences but they were grammatically incorrect. He had difficulty identifying symbols or letters. The concepts were preserved in his brain, but he was not able to express them. Language is controlled by left side of the brain, and that part was affected.”
Doctors say that lifestyle aggravated neurological illnesses in those below 40 years of age are epilepsy, headache, nutritional deficiencies of Vitamin B12 and D3, stroke and migraine. They are aggravated due to stress, sleep deprivation, alcohol consumption and other addictions.
Lifestyle is the culprit
In another case, a 24-year-old engineer suddenly suffered from stroke a few months ago. He was slightly obese and his stress levels were high. He lost identification ability, speech and has been under therapy for nine months.
“Now he has retained his walking ability and has retained his alphabet recognizing skills,” says Dr Ruchi Varshney, a practicing Delhi-based physiotherapist.
Most neurological problems in youngsters are due to diet, lifestyle and stress. “They have sitting jobs where they work for 16-18 hours. They suffer from nerve compression which leads to numbness, vertigo, dizziness, vision problems and fluctuation of blood pressure,” said Dr Varshney.
Of hundred stroke patients, 11 to 12 are between 15 to 30 years of age. Sometimes, even exercise or sports is to blame is to blame. “Youngsters may have a gym-injury. Otherwise, lifestyle and stress are precipitating factors,” she added.
Common neurological ailments caused by lifestyle
Epilepsy: Convulsions are common among the youth. Though causes of epilepsy are not directly related to lifestyle but lifestyle can precipitate convulsions in case of epilepsy. Stress, sleep deprivation, alcohol and addictions are to blame.
Headaches: An estimated 16% of the youth suffers from migraines, and they are more common in women. Irregular lifestyle, stress at the personal level and work place, irregular daily schedule, unhealthy eating habits are all responsible.
Nutritional deficiency: Insufficient Vitamins B12 and D3 is a common cause for neuropathy. Symptoms are tingling, numbness and parasthesia.
Stroke: It is no longer a disease of those past their middle age. Medical practitioners say 15% - 25% of all strokes now occur in those less than 40 years of age. The incidence is even higher among Indians because of our genetic make-up. The factors are aggravated by lifestyle choices of the youth.
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