Gen X More at Risk of Stroke Than Baby Boomers | Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System
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Gen X More at Risk of Stroke Than Baby Boomers

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Elderly woman practicing tai chi

It was Mother’s Day recently and I was lucky enough to spend the day with my mother.  In February my mother was diagnosed and treated for heart disease.  She had been having chest pain when walking and it even woke her at night.  She had to be admitted into the hospital and got a trip to my very own Heart & Vascular Center at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center.  I was so thankful she was close enough she could come to our cath lab and be taken care of in our ICU and telemetry.  A couple of stents later, she’s feeling much better and is able to do things she hasn’t been able to do for a long time.

My mom is a Baby Boomer (people born between the years 1943-1960).  I know she’s getting older and the chance of health problems, such as heart disease and stroke, increases.  But contrary to my beliefs, a recent study from Rutgers actually shows that Baby Boomers have had a reduction in the rate of strokes.  However, the rate of strokes for Generation X (people born between the years 1961-1979) has more than DOUBLED!  What?  How could this have happened?  How could I have a higher risk of stroke than my mother?  We have access to the same medications and treatments.  After analyzing more than 225,000 patient records, researchers believe the significant increase in obesity and type II diabetes is the culprit.

Kansas’ obesity rate is over 34%, and 2 out of 3 adults are overweight.  With the obesity rate comes an increase in type II diabetes.  1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year, and experts believe that number will continue to rise.  Type II diabetics are 2-4 times more likely to have a stroke and develop heart disease at a younger age.  Not only are they more likely to develop cardiovascular disease (stroke and heart disease), but they are more likely to have poor outcomes and die from these conditions.

So what can you do if you are part of Generation X?  Remain active and avoid excess weight.  When I say active, I don’t mean a leisurely walk around the block, I mean vigorous exercise that raises your heart rate, makes you sweat, and it’s hard.  Also, quit smoking!  Smoking alone doubles your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Take your prescriptions as your physician has prescribed.  If you have trouble paying for your prescriptions, let your doctor know, don’t quit taking them.  Also, Dr. Oz is not your physician, quit taking medical advice from him!

Now, what do you do if you if you are having stoke symptoms or chest pain?  Call 911.  Reno County paramedics are trained to recognize the symptoms of serious conditions and start treatment before you get to the hospital.  They also will notify the emergency department prior to your arrival.  That will greatly reduce your time from arrival to life saving treatment.  Hutchinson Regional Medical Center’s emergency department has diligently worked to receive a Primary Stroke Center certification from The Joint Commission and have received the American Stroke Association “Get with the Guidelines” Award.  You are actually able to receive the same clot busting drug, tPA, that KU Med advertises, right here at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center.  As for the Heart & Vascular Center, our average door to balloon time last quarter was 55 minutes.  That means if you show up at our emergency department with a heart attack, on average we can get you through the ER, into the cath lab, and open up the blockage causing your heart attack in 55 minutes.  Hutchinson Regional Medical Center is committed to giving our community exceptional care, no matter what generation you’re in.

By. Aubrey Nuss, Director of Cardiovascular Services