Young people susceptible to stroke and dementia, Halifax neurologist says
New report says having a stroke more than doubles your risk of dementia
A Halifax neurologist is warning Nova Scotians — especially young people — to change their exercise and eating habits following a report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation that shows a profound link between stroke and dementia, and suggests a healthy lifestyle as the key to prevention.
According to the 2016 Stroke Report, released Thursday by The Heart and Stroke Foundation, having a stroke more than doubles a person's risk of developing dementia. The report also said that both strokes and dementia are increasingly happening in young people.
Covert strokes, or small strokes with no obvious symptoms, are also happening at a younger age, opening the door to more and earlier dementia, the report said.
"What's become clear to us is that the risk factors for serious illnesses overlap," Halifax neurologist Dr. Stephen Phillips told CBC's Information Morning. "If you do a better of job of stroke prevention you can also do a better job of preventing dementia as well."
Young people at risk
Phillips said he's hoping people will be encouraged to make the effort to live a healthier lifestyle "by broadening the message and emphasizing how effort in these areas can have spin-off effects on more than one condition.
"Younger people are less healthy than they used to be, in the sense that they're more sedentary because of the impact of living with technology," he said, and that makes them more susceptible to disease. Phillips said hospital rates for young people in Canada are on the rise.
Healthy choices challenging
The best way to reduce the risk of stroke and dementia is to live a healthy lifestyle, he said. That includes reducing smoking and alcohol consumption, more physical exercise and a balanced diet. Easier said than done.
"Most people have a sense of what a healthy lifestyle is. It's just, you know, it can be very difficult to actually accomplish it," Phillips said.
Profound impact of brain disorders
Phillips said doctors are striving to find better ways of dealing with brain disorders.
"I think when you have a condition that affects the brain and affects the very fabric of the person, then it has even more impact than, say, you know, orthopedic problems or heart disease."
With files from Information Morning