Background

Young stroke (stroke between 18-50 years) yearly affects millions of people worldwide and recent studies indicate increases in its incidence and the prevalence of its risk factors (George, Tong, Kuklina, & Labarthe, 2011; Kissela et al., 2012). This results in growing socioeconomic consequences in terms of life-years with disability and life-years lost (Pezzini et al., 2014).

Risk factors in younger patients concerning stroke differ significantly from those seen in older patients (Ferro, Massaro, & Mas, 2010; Putaala et al., 2009). While atherosclerosis accounts for most strokes in older patients, cardio-embolic stroke, dissections and subclinical brain infarcts occur more frequent among younger patients (Balci, Utku, Asil, & Celik, 2011; Kittner et al., 1998; Putaala et al., 2009; Rasura et al., 2006; Varona, Guerra, Bermejo, Molina, & Gomez de la Camara, 2007). However, the etiology remains unclear in almost one third of all young stroke patients, after standard and more thorough investigations (Griffiths & Sturm, 2011; Kittner et al., 1998; Kristensen et al., 1997; Kwon et al., 2016; Putaala et al., 2009; Rasura et al., 2006).

In addition, young stroke patients face many uncertainties about their future and often have many questions, in particular about risk of recurrence risk of (cerebro)vascular events, how long to use (or to stop using) secondary prevention and about chances of normal daily functioning in the long term. Especially this long-term prognosis is important in younger people as they usually have a long life to live after their stroke in which they start to form families, have an active social life and make decisive career moves.


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