Stroke Rates on the Rise for Women Because of Obesity

Published:July 9th, 2010

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – As stroke rates for middle aged women rise, obesity rises as well. This is what alarms a number of researchers and suspects that obesity may be playing a major role in high rates of stroke among women aged 38 to 54.

Chairman of Neurology Dr Ralph Sacco of the University of Miami, Florida observes, “This alarming increase of obesity may translate into high occurrences of stroke, where obesity is in fact modifiable.”

US stroke data gathered and analyzed in 1994 to 2004 denotes that women aged 45 to 54 were more prone to suffer a stroke compared to their male counterparts. This led to a further study led by Dr.
Amytis Towfighi of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, along with colleagues, to ascertain whether this signified a real trend and if answers could be derived from this parallel rise.

About 10,000 men and women were sampled by the National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys that belonged to the 35 to 54 age bracket. Information was gathered in two waves – from 1988 to 1994, and 1999 to 2004. It was found out that there were no major differences in stroke rates from the first wave. Though once compared to the later figures, it was found out that the number of women who suffered from stroke jumped close to 2% as the numbers for men did not move as much. This now is contrary to the traditional thought that men have similar or higher stroke rates than women, as published in the journal Stroke.

As researchers try to find answers, they saw that a lot of women in the second wave were obese compared to the first one. Noted in the same manner were higher triglyceride levels and higher blood pressure absent in the first wave. Recently however, more and more women have undergone or are still undergoing medications to lower lipids and blood pressure as part of improving efforts to lessen stroke risks.

The study recommends in conclusion that to prevent stroke, obesity has to be controlled by regular habits of exercise, healthy weight loss options, lots of vegetables and fruits, moderate alcohol consumption, and total abstinence from smoking.

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