Lifestyle, mounting work pressure and over-ambition are leading to increasing cases of brain hemorrhage among the 20-30 age group, doctors say.
According to Dr K B Shankar, assistant professor of Neuro Surgery at Safdarjung Hospital, brain strokes were earlier noticed in the elderly age group with high blood pressure and diabetes being the main causes.
"But recently there have been increasing cases of patients with brain hemorrhages at an early age primarily because of the lifestyle that we follow," Shankar said.
He says incidents of strokes annually in India is 100-150 per 1,00,000 people, according to an epidemiological survey. This amounts to 1-1.5 million new cases of strokes, of which 15-20 per cent occur in patients aged less than 30 years.
Shankar lists high level stress, work pressure, irregular work patterns, competitive environment, lack of good sleep, unhealthy and untimely eating habits, lack of exercise and genetic factors as causes of brain strokes.
"All these ultimately lead to hypertension and diabetes at an early age that causes brain strokes," he says.
Backing Shankar's view, Dr Vikas Dikhav, a senior research officer in the department of neurology at Ram Manohar Lohiya Hospital, says hypertension is the main cause of bleeding in the brain.
"Many a times, patients are not aware of high blood pressures and therefore they may not know that they are harbouring a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode. At times, the high blood pressure counts don't even reflect the high level stress, and it may be spiking dangerously when they are stressed or exerting themselves," he says.
Narrating a recent case, he says a 22-year-old man, preparing for a top competitive entrance exam, was admitted in the hospital with severe grade hypertension and headache in the occipital area in a semi-conscious state.
"CT scan showed a large bleeding spot in basal ganglia area (a region at the base of the brain responsible for involuntary movements such as tremors, athetosis, and chorea). He had to be conservatively managed for weeks, then only his blood pressure could be stabilised. Patient still has weakness on one side of the body," Dikhav says.
According to Dr Bhawani Shankar, head of the department of Neurosurgery in AIIMS, the institute receives an average of four-five brain stroke cases among youngsters in a week.
"Hypertension is a silent killer and the only simple way out is that take only that much of pressure which you can handle."
He says control of blood pressure by medicines or lifestyle modification can play a major role in averting brain strokes.
"Lifestyle modification means regular exercise and healthy diet.Today's work environment involves stress and competition.
That is why one should opt for stress busters like doing something entirely different from the routine, or taking up a hobby or doing meditation," he says.
Explaining how the brain stroke takes place, K B Shankar says because of diabetes and hypertension, there is deposition of certain materials like atheroma within the blood vessels and weakening of the vessels.
Atheroma deposition causes narrowing of the vessels which leads to reduction of blood supply to the brain and subsequently infarction (death of brains tissue), he says.
Weakening of blood vessels leads to rupture of blood vessels within the brain which causes blood clots and all these processes lead to a stroke.