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“As people get older, they have more and more direct contact with people who had strokes” and learn what to watch for, Dr. Bushnell said. But at younger ages, “there’s just a gap in awareness.”

Who is at increased risk for a younger-than-usual stroke? Blacks and Hispanics, more than whites. Someone whose parent had a stroke before age 65 is at extra risk.

But mostly, the same things that are bad for your heart are bad for your brain, making it crucial to control blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol; to stop smoking; and to keep active. At the American Heart Association offers a seven-step online test called “My Life Check” that can help assess your risks.

Younger people do tend to survive strokes more than older people, and to recover better.

But Arnold Springs, 48, of Winston-Salem, N.C., knows it was his friends’ fast 911 call that made the difference for him earlier this month.

“All of a sudden, my right arm went numb. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor,” Mr. Springs recalled.

The ambulance got him to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in time for a clot-busting drug to stop his stroke. Mr. Springs left the hospital three days later with some loss of vision and trouble walking, problems that his sister said are expected to improve — plus orders to lower his blood pressure to stave off future strokes.