Workaholics and Younger Adults Facing Higher Risk of Stroke. Consequences Affect Family and Finances.

In 2012 former U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) suffered a stroke at age 52. Research shows that younger people are now having strokes and TIA's, and the impact of such health events can create many consequences for a victim's family.

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Workaholics and Younger Adults Facing Higher Risk of Stroke. Consequences Affect Family and Finances.
5 Min Read August 21st, 2015 Updated:March 28th, 2021

Strokes are not limited to those who smoke or have uncontrolled high blood pressure. New research indicates those who work excessive overtime hours might be increasing the risk of stroke by as much as one-third.

People who worked 55 hours or more per week were 13% more likely to develop heart disease than those with more regular work weeks. According to a story in HealthDay News, a separate analysis of data from previous studies found that those who worked more than 55 hours a week were one-third more likely to suffer a stroke.

Physical Inactivity Increases Risk of Stroke

While researchers couldn't prove an exact cause for the increased stroke risk, they suggest physical inactivity, higher drinking rates, and higher stress levels associated with workaholics may be to blame. One physician said he was "surprised" by the study's results.

"The risk is almost as bad as smoking, which increases the risk of stroke by about 50 percent."

“To my mind the most plausible explanation is chronic triggering of the stress response that comes with working long hours, pressure to perform and not enough time for family, loved ones and peaceful rest."

Stephan Mayer, M.D., director of neurocritical care at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City

In 2012, then U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) suffered a stroke at age 52. Kirk went through extensive rehab and went back to work in the Senate. He ran for re-election and lost to Tammy Duckworth. He is now still active in Washington politics. While he has still has some physical limitations, he was fortunate that his intellect remained.

Kirk is not the only younger person to suffer from a stroke. Frankie Muniz, who starred in the hit sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle, suffered from a stroke in his late 20s. Kris Letang, a former NHL hockey player, also suffered a stroke in his 20s.  Tedy Bruschi, a three-time Super-Bowl-winning linebacker in the NFL, suffered a stroke at age 31. Russell Allen suffered a stroke during an NFL game. J.R. Richard, a major league pitcher, suffered a massive stroke that ended his career.

More People Survive Strokes - But Require Help With Daily Activities

A 2005 study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, underscores that health issues that cause Long Term Health Care are now happening at younger ages. With advances in medical science, these individuals survive these health events but don’t die. 

Many people end up requiring help with activities of daily living for an extended period of time or the rest of their life. SOme people also have memory loss and require supevision. This places both financial strain and emotional problems for the families of those dealing with these Long Term Health Care events. Generally, health insurance, like Medicare, will pay very little for extended long-term health care.

"This is still a disease of the old, but a surprisingly higher proportion of younger patients are having strokes, and it's getting worse over time."

 Brett Kissela, MD, professor and vice chair of neurology at the University of Cincinnati.

High Blood Pressure and Diabetes Increase Stroke Risk

The rate of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity among younger people are all risk factors for strokes. About 795,000 Americans are affected by stroke annually, according to the American Stroke Association. Approximately 600,000 of these are first strokes, and 185,000 are recurrent strokes. 

Most are ischemic strokes caused by an obstruction within the blood vessel. Others occur when a blood vessel ruptures, called hemorrhagic strokes.

Cognitive decline related to stroke is usually called vascular dementia or vascular cognitive impairment to distinguish it from other types of dementia. In the United States, it is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's Disease. Vascular dementia is preventable, but only if the underlying vascular disease is recognized and treated early.

People who have had a stroke have a nine times greater risk of dementia than people who have not had a stroke. About 1 in 4 people who have a stroke develop signs of dementia within one year.

Stroke Symptoms Vary

The symptoms of stroke vary, depending on which part of the brain is affected. The common symptoms of a stroke are sudden paralysis or loss of sensation in part of the body (especially on one side), partial loss of vision or double vision, or loss of balance. Loss of bladder and bowel control can also occur.

Other symptoms include a decline in "cognitive" mental functions such as memory, speech, language, thinking, organization, reasoning, or judgment. Changes in behavior and personality may occur. If these symptoms are severe enough to interfere with everyday activities, they are called dementia.

Experts suggest a better balance of lifestyle, regular check-ups, and a good diet can help. Planning for long-term health care is also suggested while a person's health is still good. Generally, experts suggest people consider Long-Term Care Insurance as part of their overall retirement plan.

Planning for Future Long-Term Health Care Should Happen When Healthy

As we get older, we see changes in our health, body, and mind. These changes become accelerated with age. Often, due to these changes, help with daily activities is required. Many families are not prepared for the considerable cost of extended health care. Costs increase yearly, according to the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator

Lack of planning means paying for costly care or having loved ones become caregivers. Family caregivers are ill-prepared for the role. Plus, caregiving is physically and emotionally demanding. 

Long-Term Care Insurance gives you access to your choice of quality care, including in-home care. In addition to paying for care and protecting assets, the policy allows the family time to be family.

These policies are very affordable if purchased between 40 to 65. Many people younger than 40 may have other pressing needs to address. Those older than 65 will often have health issues that could make them more difficult to obtain coverage. Seeking help from a Long-Term Care specialist is desirable to determine if this coverage is appropriate for you.

You never know when you or a loved one will need long-term health care. However, aging happens. Being prepared will give you and your family peace-of-mind.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

Many people realize the necessity of having a plan for long-term health care. Nonetheless, many have not yet done so. Some people think LTC Insurance is too expensive (it's not). Others assume it can be complicated (it can). Planning before you retire is crucial.

No matter if you need care due to an illness, accident, or cognitive decline, Long-Term Care Insurance gives you access to your choice of quality care, including in-home care. You will protect your income and assets and reduce family burden.

Preparing your family and finances for the future costs and burdens of aging is an essential part of retirement planning. But Long-Term Care Insurance is more than just about money. 

Yes, long-term health care is a significant cash flow issue. LTC Insurance addresses this problem. But, long-term care is also a family issue. Without any plan in place, the family will go into crisis mode. The result can be a disaster for you and your family, and your wishes may take a back seat.

An LTC policy keeps you in control and helps avoid becoming dependent on your children decades from now. You will have access to guaranteed tax-free benefits that will pay for your choice of quality care, either in-home or in a facility. 

Asset Protection and Quality Care

You can safeguard your 401K, IRA, and other assets and maintain your lifestyle once you retire. However, Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten, so you must have reasonably good health to obtain coverage. Plus, premiums are calculated on your age, health, family history, and other factors.

LTC NEWS Planning Tools

LTC NEWS offers multiple tools and resources to help you research the financial costs and burdens of aging so you can find an affordable solution. 

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS by clicking here.

One of the best tools is the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator. You can find the current and future costs of long-term health care where you live. This information will help you design an appropriate LTC Insurance policy.

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