Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have found an overall decrease in adult strokes over the past six decades — and the biggest drop has been among adults older than 55.

The team, which published its findings in Stroke magazine, examined first occurrences of ischemic stroke (caused by blood clots in the brain) over four five-year periods: 1962 to 1967, 1971 to 1976, 1987 to 1991, and 1998 to 2005.

Incidents among subjects over 55 years old fell a whopping 53%.

While the overall decline in strokes is 39% for the whole range of subjects 35 and older, incidents among subjects over 55 years old fell a whopping 53%.

“Most strokes at midlife were due to diseases of the arteries (atherosclerosis) caused by a clot migrating from the heart. We also looked at vascular risk factors, such as hypertension and smoking, which have been declining among both age groups over time,” corresponding author Hugo J. Aparicio, MD, MPH, Boston University assistant professor of neurology said in a statement.

The team suggested that improved diagnostic tools, such as MRI and CT scans, have helped identify atypical stroke symptoms.

Nevertheless, Dr. Aparicio said, diagnosis is only part of the stroke offensive.

“Physicians should continue to emphasize to their patients that stroke can occur at any age,” he said. “Lifestyle choices such as exercise, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and getting proper sleep likely will reduce the risk of stroke at middle age, just as it does in later life.”

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