Individuals experiencing poor mental abilities in their teenage years could face a triple risk of stroke by the age of 50, a study revealed.

A stroke, also known as a brain attack, is a sudden cardiovascular medical emergency where blood flow to the brain gets disrupted, impacting a person's speech, eating, movement, and other bodily functions. This can happen either due to a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or from bleeding in the brain tissue (hemorrhagic stroke). Around half of stroke patients may experience long-term impairments.

According to the results of the study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, teens with poor concentration, problem-solving, and learning abilities are at a heightened risk of early-onset stroke.

"Alongside adolescent obesity and hypertension, lower cognitive function may be a risk factor for early-onset stroke," the researchers concluded in the study.

The study results hold special significance given the rising incidence of stroke among individuals under 50 years old.

The research team utilized data from a nationally representative sample of 1.7 million young Israelis who underwent comprehensive cognitive function tests before mandatory military service. The study has data of participants between the ages of 16–20 years, from 1987 to 2012.

Based on cognitive test results, participants were grouped into low (IQ score below 89), medium (IQ score range: 89–118), or high (IQ score above 118) intelligence groups. The participants' data were then linked to the Israeli National Stroke Registry. Researchers utilized proportional hazard models to assess the risk of experiencing their first ischemic stroke between 2014 and 2018.

A total of 908 cases of stroke were recorded during this period, of which 767 were ischaemic and 141 from hemorrhage. The rate of fatality was 5% and 62% of deaths occurred within a month after the stroke. The average age of a first stroke was 39.5.

"Among those scoring low to medium on mental ability, the incidence of both types of stroke was higher, particularly that of ischemic stroke. After accounting for potentially influential factors, those with low mental ability were more than 2.5 times as likely to have a stroke before the age of 50 as those with a high level, while those with a medium level were 78% more likely to do so," the news release stated.

After accounting for potentially influential factors, the risk was almost double among those with a medium level of mental ability and more than 3 times higher among those with a low level in their teenage years.

The study does not establish cause and effect relationship. The researchers acknowledge several limitations, including the absence of data on lifestyle factors like smoking, physical activity, and diet, as well as higher education and various significant social determinants of health.