Stroke at age 41

    After experiencing a mild stroke yesterday, Delaware attorney general Beau Biden is recovering in a Philadelphia hospital.

    Delaware officials report that attorney general Beau Biden is continuing to recover from a stroke he had yesterday. The 41-year-old is just a few years younger than his father — vice president Joe Biden — was when he underwent surgery for a brain aneurysm.
    (Photo courtesy of the DNC)

    Beau Biden’s stroke appears to be mild, and officials say he’s making progress at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Biden is 41 years old, an age when stroke less common than in older adults.

    Eisen: Certainly is less common than in people over 50 for example, but it does happen. And when it does happen it’s if anything it’s more likely to be due to cardiac or heart causes than in older people.

    Hundreds of thousands of adults under age 44 in the US have had a stroke.

    Howard Eisen, the chief of cardiology at Drexel College of Medicine, says mild stroke in younger adults is usually caused by irregular heart beats, holes in the heart that transfer clots, or high blood pressure. Eisen says common causes in older people are hardening of the arteries. Eisen is not Biden’s doctor.

    Aneurysms – like the one the vice president had – can also cause stroke, and the tendency to have an aneurysm can run in families. But Eisen says that doesn’t seem to be the case with Beau Biden’s condition.

    Eisen: Given that he’s had a very rapid recovery and that the scope of his stroke is not all that severe I think that that’s much less likely. But that’s something we see in young people who develop strokes.

    Strokes caused by aneurysms tend to be more severe.

    May happens to be stroke awareness month, points out Carol Monge, the spokeswoman for the National Stroke Association.

    Monge: We’re really concerned that a lot of people don’t recognize the signs of stroke and the stroke symptoms and that how crucial it is that people get care immediately is any stroke symptoms are detected.

    Monge says symptoms include numbness, confusion, trouble walking or speaking, and headaches. Eisen says some of the biggest overlooked risks of stroke are behavioral ones — such as smoking, birth control pills, and cocaine use.

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