Strokes in children, teens, and young adults are rising at a disturbing speed in the U.S., a new study finds.

Researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed hospital data on up to 8 million patients a year between 1995 and 2008. The study, published in the Annals of Neurology, states that stroke rates in 5- to 44-year-olds rose by about a third.

High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and smoking were common among the stroke patients.

Figures for ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes were examined by the researchers. Ischemic stroke occurs as a result of blood clots while haemorrhagic stroke caused by bleeding on the brain.

For ischemic stroke there was an increase in the rate by 31 percent in 5- to 14-year-olds. In terms of numbers this has increased from 3.2 strokes per 10,000 hospital cases to 4.2 per 10,000. For people aged 15 to 34 there were increases of 30 percent. For people aged 35 to 44 there were increases of 37 percent.

The study also noted that the increase was greater in men than in women in all age groups.

While stroke is often thought of as a disease of old age, recent research has found that youths and young adults account for up to 10 percent of all strokes.

While ischemic strokes in older people have been declining in the past 15 years, they have been increasing among younger people. This research stresses the necessity for people to be conscious that stroke can affect younger people.

The findings should serve as a wake-up call for lifestyle improvement.