An average of 795,000 people in the U.S. suffer from strokes every year, and of those, 10 percent are 45 years and younger. The American Heart Association has found that stroke rates among young patients, which rose between 1995 and 1999, have risen even more dramatically from 2010 to 2014. Pennsylvania residents may wonder what is behind this trend.

One factor is the rise in obesity and other chronic conditions. Plaque can develop in the arteries in the presence of cardiac risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. As it does so, it can periodically rupture and completely obstruct the arteries, causing heart attacks and stroke.

Unfortunately, the stroke symptoms that young people, especially young women, exhibit are liable to misdiagnosis. In most stroke cases, the symptoms are facial drooping, weak arms and slurred speech. In young women, however, the signs are limited to headaches, migraines, dizziness, confusion and sudden numbness.

Many suffer what are called silent strokes, which go unrecognized and lead to a dangerous delay in diagnosis. Patients generally cannot recognize them because a stroke impairs cognitive ability. Long-term effects will include a gradual decline in cognitive function as well as memory loss.

If a doctor misdiagnoses the symptoms of a stroke or diagnoses it only after a delay that causes the patient needless suffering and financial expense, there may be good grounds for a medical malpractice claim. For a claim to be valid, several requirements must be met: for instance, there should be an existing doctor-patient relationship, and the doctor must have failed to live up to an objective standard of care.

Victims may choose to retain legal counsel once they have reached maximum medical improvement. The lawyer might request an inquiry with the medical board and utilize a network of professionals to strengthen the claim before proceeding to negotiations.