On March 12, 25-year-old model Hailey Bieber was released from a Palm Springs hospital after experiencing what felt like a stroke, during breakfast with husband Justin Bieber.
The health scare comes just weeks after husband and singer Justin Bieber tested positive for COVID-19 and, according to Twitter, was forced to cancel his world tour — leaving many to wonder whether the two are related.
What Young People Need to Know About Stroke
For most young people, the chance of having a stroke seems like an impossibility — but there is no such thing as being too young for a stroke. It’s true that your stroke risk increases with age, but in young people — even infants, children, and adolescents — does happen. In fact, between 10 and 15 percent of strokes occur in people ages 18 to 50, according to a study published in February 2020 in the journal Stroke. In general, most experts consider a young age to be under 45.
Even though the overall rate of stroke is decreasing, especially in people over age 65, it’s actually increasing among young and middle-aged people.
A county-by-county analysis, published in November 2019 in the journal Stroke, found that between 2010 and 2016, strokes among middle-aged people increased in 3 times as many U.S. counties as strokes in people over age 64. These statistics were also no longer confined to what epidemiologists call the “Stroke Belt,” a swath of the southeastern United States in which stroke rates are between 2 and 4 times the national average.
How Strokes in Young People Can Be Different
The type of strokes that are seen in younger people are typically different from what doctors see in older patients.
“There are certain heart-related problems that seem to be the causes of stroke in young people that seem to be less of a cause as we get older,” says Andrew Russman, DO, a neurologist and the medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, adding that many young people are unaware they have an underlying condition that contributes to stroke until they have one.
he factors that contribute to stroke in young people, which are typically different from what doctors see in older people who have a disease, include the following:
Patent Foramen Ovale About 1 in 4 people have small holes in the two atria of the heart, which are present at birth but typically not screened for, so most people don’t know they have it, says Dr. Russman.
Arterial Dissection Up to 25 percent of stroke in people under age 45 is caused by a dissecting blood vessel in the neck. According to Russman, this can occur for a number of reasons, including whiplash or sports-related trauma, although most dissections occur spontaneously without trauma, he says. Blood vessels are made of three layers: a thin inner layer of cells, a muscular layer, and a fibrous layer. “The thin surface layer can tear, and then the blood can get into that vessel wall. This causes narrowing in the blood vessel and can be the cause of stroke,” says Russman. According to the Cleveland Clinic, symptoms of an arterial dissection can include the following:
- Neck and face pain, especially pain around the eyes
- Double vision or a droopy eyelid
- A sudden decrease in sense of taste
Clotting Disorders Some conditions, including sickle cell disease, cause the blood to form clumps that can turn into clots and cause strokes in young people, says Russman. “Oftentimes a stroke may be the first indication that they had a clotting disorder,” says Russman.
Substance Abuse Specifically, doing cocaine constricts blood vessels while increasing the clumping of blood cells that causes clotting, explains Russman, which is how the drug contributes to stroke in young people. Refraining from drug use and heavy alcohol consumption will reduce your risk of having a disease at any age.