Young people are having more strokes than they did 20 years ago, new research shows. Nearly one out of every five people who suffer a stroke is now under the age of 55—a rate 6 percent higher than in the early 1990s—and the average age of stroke victims overall has fallen from 71 to 69. “Our data cannot tell us why exactly this is happening,’’ University of Cincinnati neurologist Brett Kissela tells WebMD.com, but the trend is “getting worse over time.’’ Experts say the rise in strokes among younger people is especially surprising given that stroke rates have declined among people over the age of 55. One reason for the shift may be that Americans are developing risk factors like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure at younger ages. A balanced diet, exercise, and regular medical checkups can all reduce stroke risk.