August 20, 2019 | 81° F

Rutgers study finds Generation X at increased risk for strokes

Photo by Hailey Ebenstein |

A new Rutgers study found that members of Generation X - those born between 1965 and 1974 - are more than twice as likely to have a stroke than the average population. People born in 1961 or before, meanwhile, are seeing declining stroke rates.

Younger does not always mean healthier, at least when it comes to the increasing rates of strokes among adults.

A Rutgers study shows the rate of strokes more than doubled among Generation X — people born between 1965 and 1974 — and declined for individuals over age 55.

The study, which includes an analysis of 20 years worth of healthcare data and more than 200,000 diverse New Jersey patients, is the first of its size and scope, NJ Spotlight reported.

Researchers conducted the study at the Cardiovascular Institute of New Jersey at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The study was published on Nov. 23, in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Strokes are the main cause of death in New Jersey, killing nearly 1,000 people each year, according to the article. Suffering from a stroke can cause brain damage and even death, but 8 of 10 strokes are avoidable.

Overall, the rate of stroke has decreased since 1950 due to the progress of medicine, Joel Swerdel, author of the study, told NJ Spotlight. This trend, however, is increasing within younger generations, most likely due to obesity and diabetes.

Other factors contributing to this increase can be the lack of prescribed treatment, as well as advanced technology used to diagnose stroke, said the research project manager at the Rutgers University Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research.

While there is no clear evidence why the older generation is “stroke-healthier,” the group is recorded to have lower rates of diabetes, obesity and smoking, according to the article. They are also more prone to following advice given by their doctor regarding prescriptions.

While the researchers conducted their study within New Jersey, they believe their study reflects a broader trend across the United States, NJ spotlight reported.

Researches said the impact of the study is to enable patients of all ages to avoid the risk of stroke with help of their physicians. The study also creates awareness of the effects early lifestyle choices can have on long-term health, according to NJ Spotlight.

The results of the study highlights the need to research how lifestyle choices effect health of the heart over time, according to the article. Swerdel said he encourages younger people to embrace a healthy diet and exercise to avoid suffering from a stroke.  

Noa Halff is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. She is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum.

Noa Halff

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