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updated 2/9/2011 1:34:27 PM ET 2011-02-09T18:34:27

Doctors are reporting an alarming rise in strokes among young and middle-aged Americans even as the disease declines among older people.

They think the obesity epidemic may be starting to shift the age burden of strokes, which still take their greatest toll on the elderly.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared a nationwide sample of stroke hospitalizations during 1994 and 1995 to those in 2006 and 2007.

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The sharpest rise in stroke hospitalizations was 51 percent among men under 35, including teenage boys. Strokes also rose among females in this age group by 17 percent.

The study was discussed Wednesday at an American Stroke Association conference in Los Angeles.

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