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Young People Think They’re Healthier Than They Are

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Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 2, 2011

Young People Think Theyre Healthier Than They AreYoung adults believe they lead a healthier lifestyle than they actually, do according to a new survey.

The survey was conducted to assess the attitudes on health and healthy behavior of 1,248 American adults ages 18 to 44.

Most of the young adults surveyed (those in the 18 to 24 year old age group) said that they want to live a long life — as long as age 98 — and keep their health.

But one-third of those surveyed don’t believe engaging in healthy behaviors now could affect their risk of stroke in the future. Furthermore, 18 percent could not identify at least one stroke risk factor.

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in America, with someone suffering a stroke every 40 seconds. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in or leading to the brain bursts or is blocked by a blood clot. When this happens, part of the brain can’t get the blood or oxygen it needs, so it starts to die. Depending on the severity of the stroke, immobility or paralysis may occur.

People who make healthy lifestyle choices lower their risk of having a first stroke by as much as 80 percent compared with those who don’t make healthy choices. The healthy behaviors include eating a low-fat diet high in fruits and vegetables, drinking alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages in moderation, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight and not smoking.

“This survey shows the dangerous disconnect that many young Americans have about how their behaviors affect their risks for stroke and other cardiovascular diseases,” said Ralph Sacco, M.D., neurologist and president of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

“Starting healthy behaviors at a young age is critical to entering middle age in good shape. The investment you make in your health now will have a large payoff as you age. We want everyone – especially young people – to strive to avoid stroke, which can affect anyone at any age.”

“Young adults need to make a connection between healthy behaviors and a healthy brain and healthy heart,” Sacco said. “If we are not able to help young adults understand the relevance of their actions now and their risk of stroke tomorrow, then we could be looking at an increase in stroke diagnoses and deaths within the next 10 to 20 years.”

“Everyone should recognize the severity of stroke, which threatens quality of life and can be prevented. People need to think in terms of striving for ideal health as well as surviving and thriving if a stroke occurs. An easier way to remember this is: Strive, Survive and Thrive,” Sacco added.

Results from the survey also revealed that as people age, they become more aware of their overall health and risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For instance, among 35 to 44 year olds, only 22 percent said they were not concerned about cardiovascular diseases and conditions, including heart disease/heart attack; high blood pressure; obesity; high cholesterol; diabetes; and stroke. Yet, about half (48 percent) of them are more likely to have health concerns they struggle with today.

Long life with good health is also a goal of many 25-44 year olds. The average age this group wishes to reach is 91. If they continue to live healthfully, they will have a better chance of reaching that goal than those under 25.

Source: American Stroke Association

 

APA Reference
NewsEditor, P. (2011). Young People Think They’re Healthier Than They Are. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/05/02/young-people-think-theyre-healthier-than-they-are/25844.html