Columbus, OH,
20:30 PM

NBC4: Rising Stroke Rates Among Young Adults

18-year-old Tyler Trost had his life suddenly turned upside down when he suffered a stroke in August. With the quick response of the stroke team at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, he is now on his way to a full recovery and dedicated to raising awareness about strokes occurring in young adults.

Strokes are no longer confined to the elderly, experts say. According to the American Heart Association, stroke rates among young and middle-aged adults are on the rise, growing faster than older age groups. Trost’s story serves as a reminder.

He was going about his routine that day when he suddenly began experiencing numbness in his arm, legs, and mouth and involuntary drooling.

“That was the one thing that I didn’t want to believe is the fact that there’s no way I’m having a stroke at the age of 18,” Trost told NBC4 reporter Isabel Cleary.

He was quickly MedFlighted to Riverside Methodist Hospital where the medical team was prepared for his arrival.

"At that point, they called ahead and notified our stroke team. So, we were available for him when he came into this room, and we identified that he had a large stroke,” said Brian Katz, MD, a Stroke Neurologist at OhioHealth.

Trost’s stroke scored between 8 and 12 on the severity scale, despite his young age. Dr. Katz and his team successfully removed the blood clots that had caused it, but they also made another surprising discovery.

"Apparently there's been a hole in my heart since birth, but it's never been figured out about, no one's ever caught it. It's just been there for my whole life," Trost said. This defect was what allowed the clots to reach his brain.

"Sometimes you may have genes or congenital problems that will be hidden because the lifestyle did not support it to show up,” said Abdulnasser Alhajeri, MD, a Neuro-Interventional Radiologist at OhioHealth, “A lot of times with young people changes by their food, their habits, all of that contribute unfortunately to have those showing up more and more."

Dr. Katz shared that strokes at a younger age can be caused by a wide range of factors and lifestyle choices including obesity, diet, smoking, vaping, as well as illicit drug use.

“Each stroke is very individualized,” Dr. Katz said, “And thankfully stroke mortality is going down. Now, our ability to identify strokes, to recognize signs and symptoms of strokes, bring the patients to the hospital getting the right tests are improving.”

OhioHealth also offers a Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit to respond to potential stroke cases in the community.

It is crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke, which can include balance issues, vision loss or double vision, facial droop, arm weakness, and speech changes. Timely diagnosis and treatment can significantly impact the outcome.

"I think that'd be a really good thing to have out there, the fact that it can happen at literally any age," said Trost.

To learn more about OhioHealth’s stroke care, click here.