September 2017 Issue

Editor's Spot: Stroke Rising in Younger Clients
By Judith Riddle
Today's Dietitian
Vol. 19, No. 9, P. 4

September marks the end of summer, the beginning of fall, and National Cholesterol Education Month—a great time for dietitians to amp up efforts to educate clients and patients about cholesterol, including its perils when levels are high, strategies to maintain normal levels, and the importance of regular screenings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 102 million American adults aged 20 and older have high cholesterol (≥200 mg/dL), of whom 35 million have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, putting themselves at risk of heart disease and stroke.

Recently, I learned some shocking news that more young people are having strokes than ever before. A 2016 study of New Jersey hospitalizations published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that strokes more than doubled in people aged 35 to 39 between 1995 and 2014 and increased in groups up to age 55. In a 2017 study published in JAMA Neurology, researchers saw increases in stroke in people aged 35 to 44 from 2003 to 2012, and there was a 42% rise in men and 30% boost in women.

The reason for the increased stroke rates? More people between the ages of 18 and 64 develop three or more of the five common stroke risk factors: high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, tobacco use, and high cholesterol. Other less common risk factors include congenital blood vessel abnormalities, blood vessel injury, and pregnancy-related hormones.

To help reduce the stroke rate in young clients and patients, RDs can encourage them to begin adopting lifestyle changes to help them maintain acceptable cholesterol levels. They also can remind clients to check their cholesterol every five years. You can discuss the types of foods known to lower stroke risk, which include oatmeal, legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish (eg, salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, sardines), nuts, avocados, and dark chocolate. You can offer recipes, provide information about smoking cessation programs, and discuss ways to incorporate physical activity into busy lifestyles. Your guidance and expertise can save many lives.

Next month, many of you are heading to the Windy City to attend FNCE®. But before you leave, check out our annual dining guide to plan your culinary journey. Home to award-winning celebrity chefs, ethnic eateries, and gastropubs, Chicago is also known for its ketchup-free, veggie-laden hot dogs; spicy beef sandwiches; and deep-dish pizza.

The staff of Today's Dietitian looks forward to seeing all of you there. Stop by booth #1336 to say hello, and please enjoy the issue!

Judith Riddle