Epidemiology and risk factors for stroke in young individuals: Implications for prevention

Document Type



Office of the Provost; Cardiology


Purpose of review: Summarize and examine the epidemiology, etiologies, risk factors, and treatment of stroke among young adults and highlight the importance of early recognition, treatment, and primordial prevention of risk factors that lead to stroke.
Recent findings: Incidence of stroke, predominantly ischemic, among young adults has increased over the past two decades. This parallels an increase in traditional risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and use of tobacco, and use of illicit substances among young stroke patients. Compared to older patients, there is a much higher proportion of intracerebral and subarachnoid hemorrhage in young adults. The cause of ischemic stroke in young adults is also more diverse compared to older adults with 1/3rd classified as stroke of undetermined etiology due to inadequate effort or time spent on investigating these diverse and rare etiologies. Young premature Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease patients have suboptimal secondary prevention care compared to older patients with lower use of antiplatelets and statin therapy and lower adherence to statins.
Summary: Among young patients, time-critical diagnosis and management remain challenging, due to atypical stroke presentations, vast etiologies, statin hesitancy, and provider clinical inertia. Early recognition and aggressive risk profile modification along with primary and secondary prevention therapy optimization are imperative to reduce the burden of stroke among young adults and save potential disability-adjusted life years.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Current opinion in cardiology