(WHTM) — May is National Stroke Awareness Month. A neurologist with Cleveland Clinic emphasizes it is a good time to remind people about the signs and symptoms of a stroke and that anyone can have one – even younger people.

“No age group is immune to having strokes. Stroke could happen to any age group, and we’re surprisingly seeing a significant rise in strokes in young adults,” Dr. Abbas Kharal of Cleveland Clinic said.

Dr. Kharal explains a stroke occurs when there is an issue with blood flow to part of the brain, whether that be due to a lack of blood supply or bleeding in the brain.

It is important to remember the acronym FAST to recognize some of the symptoms of a stroke.

The “F” stands for face drooping, “A” for arm weakness, “S” for speech difficulty, and “T” for time to call 911.

It is critical to seek medical attention, as strokes can cause permanent brain damage if getting treatment is delayed.

According to Dr. Kharal, younger people who experience stroke symptoms will sometimes put off getting help because they think it is something less serious. He says lifestyle choices may play a part in why more people under the age of 50 are having strokes.

“Particularly in younger adults, we’re seeing a significant rise in premature atherosclerosis, which is hardening and blockages in blood vessels. That is specifically believed to be due to a rise in the vascular risk factors of stroke that are occurring in more and more younger patients. We’re seeing the incidence of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, things like that, that were initially attributed to a much older age population that are occurring now in much younger patients in their late 20s into their early 30s,” Dr. Kharal said.

There are several other factors that can lead to a stroke, including clotting disorders, structural heart disease, blood vessel abnormalities, and recreational drug use.

Dr. Kharal says that living a healthy lifestyle and keeping up with annual doctor visits can reduce a person’s risk of having a stroke.