Younger people also experience strokes

June 3, 2011 1:54:32 PM PDT
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the U.S.

While age does play a role, stroke can occur at any age. In fact, the centers for disease control and prevention says about a quarter of strokes occur in people younger than 65.

Aqualyn Laury has been a stroke survivor for nearly twenty years, and she's on a mission to teach others about the risks.

"I was walking across campus. I noticed that things looked a little different, the color of the grass was even greener than normal, everything was more vibrant. I asked one of my classmates something about class. When i opened my mouth, apparently, the only thing that came out was blah blah blah blah," said Laury.

Aqualyn had a stroke, and she was only 19.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is blocked by a blood clot or bursts.

With lack of oxygen, that part of the brain becomes damaged or dies.

It is a common misconception that young people do not get strokes.

Cardiologist Dr. Winston Gandy says advances in technology may be responsible for identifying a larger number of them.

"We're seeing an increase in the amount of strokes that are reported in that population of individuals in the 15 to 40 range," said Dr. Gandy.

For some, cardiovascular disease may be to blame. Race and heredity can't be changed, but lifestyle choices can be controlled.

It was after Aqualyn's stroke that she learned that the paternal side of her family all died from stroke. She encourages everyone to know their family history and share that with the younger people.