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Doctors seeing more strokes in young adults

Doctors with Cone Health and Novant Health tell WFMY they're seeing an increase in younger patients with strokes and stroke-like symptoms.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — When you think about a stroke, you probably associate it with someone older like a parent or grandparent. However, local doctors said they're seeing a rise in young patients with strokes.

Last weekend, Hailey Bieber, Justin Bieber's wife, went to the hospital with stroke-like symptoms. According to CBS News, test results showed Bieber suffered a very small blood clot in her brain. 

Her story grabbed a lot of attention because she's only 25-years-old.

Doctors with Cone Health and Novant Health both hope her story brings more awareness to stroke symptoms and preventative measures.

Dr. Lauren Peruski with Novant Health said someone in North Carolina is hospitalized with a stroke every 20 minutes.

There are multiple reasons younger people are experiencing more strokes. Risk factors include smoking, blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor diet and exercise. Genetics can also play a role.

Dr. Srishti Bhagat said young women are especially at risk when they're pregnant or on certain forms of birth control.

"That high estrogen state is associated with an increased risk of stroke as well with estrogen from being naturally pregnant or from the oral contraceptives, that makes the blood a little thicker or can form those blood clots that are likely to go to the brain," Dr. Bhagat.

Dr. Peruski said she agreed and added that COVID-19 also increased the risk of strokes.

"The last couple of years people have been trapped inside, the gyms have been closed, ordering in food. So that's kind of contributing to that trend in the younger population," Dr. Peruski said.

All of this makes it so important to know the symptoms. Remember BE FAST!

B - Balance (balance issues)
E - Eyes (vision issues or loss)

F - Face (face drooping, usually on one side)
A - Arm or leg (numbness)
S - Speech (difficulty talking, slurring words)
T - Terrible headache or time (headache usually stronger than normal, time to seek medical help)

If you or anyone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, call 911 or go to ER immediately.

"There are treatments that we can provide for stroke, but only within the first few hours when symptoms begin. After about 3-4 hours, there's not much we can generally offer," Dr. Peruski said.

A stroke is permanent damage of the brain and can be fatal. It is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S. Stroke survivors usually suffer significant disabilities.

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