Skip to comments.Strokes among middle-aged women triple
Posted on 02/20/2008 10:06:57 PM PST by neverdem
AP Medical Writer
Strokes have tripled in recent years among middle-aged women in the U.S., an alarming trend doctors blame on the obesity epidemic. Nearly 2 percent of women ages 35 to 54 reported suffering a stroke in the most recent federal health survey, from 1999 to 2004. Only about half a percent did in the previous survey, from 1988 to 1994. The percentage is small because most strokes occur in older people. But the sudden spike in middle age and the reasons behind it are ominous, doctors said in research presented Wednesday at a medical conference.
It happened even though more women in the recent survey were on medicines to control their cholesterol and blood pressure - steps that lower the risk of stroke.
Women's waistlines are nearly two inches bigger than they were a decade earlier, and that bulge corresponds with the increase in strokes, researchers said.
In addition, women's average body mass index, a commonly used measure of obesity, rose from 27 in the earlier survey to 29. They also had higher blood sugar levels.
No other traditional risk factors like smoking, heart disease or diabetes changed enough between the two surveys to account for the increase in strokes.
In a "pre-stroke population" of middle-age women, a tripling of cases is "an alarming increase," said Dr. Ralph Sacco, neurology chief at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
The study was led by Dr. Amytis Towfighi, a neurology specialist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and presented at the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans.
She used the National Health and Nutrition Surveys, a federally funded project that gives periodic health checkups and questionnaires to a wide sample of Americans. Participants are routinely asked whether a doctor had ever told them they had had a stroke, and about 5,000 middle-aged people answered that question in each survey.
Researchers saw that the stroke rate had spiked in middle-aged women but stayed about the same - around 1 percent - in middle-aged men. So they looked deeper at the responses to see if they could learn why.
Belly fat stood out, Towfighi said. The portion of women with abdominal obesity rose from 47 percent in the earlier survey to 59 percent in the recent one. The change in men was smaller, and previous studies have shown that "abdominal obesity is a stronger risk factor for women than men," she said.
Men traditionally have had a greater risk of stroke than women, and "women start catching up to men five or 10 years after menopause," said Dr. Philip Gorelick, neurology chief at the University of Illinois in Chicago and chairman of the stroke conference.
The new research means "we need to redefine our textbooks about stroke in women," because they may now be more at risk in middle age than men.
Obesity "sets the stage for all the other risk factors to come in" like diabetes and heart disease, Gorelick added.
In other news at the conference, two studies found that stroke patients were more likely to die if they went to hospitals on nights or weekends, echoing other recent studies that found similar risks for heart attack and surgery patients.
Michigan State University doctors analyzed 222,500 stroke cases at more than 850 hospitals participating in an American Heart Association quality improvement program from 2003 to 2007.
In-hospital deaths were about 6 percent for those who arrived during normal business hours and had strokes caused by a clot, compared with 5 percent of those who entered the hospital after-hours. Deaths were 27 percent for off-hour strokes caused by bleeding in the brain versus 24 percent during normal hours.
A second study of 2.4 million stroke patients in California found death rates of 10 percent on weekends and nights versus 8 percent during weekdays.
Despite the poorer outcomes, doctors said no one should ever delay getting help, since any delay raises the risk of death. The best treatments can only be given in the first few hours after symptoms appear.
On the Net:
Stroke conference: http://www.strokeassociation.org
Body Mass Index calculator:http://www.strokeassociation.org
Hmmm they need to compare obese woman on meds and not on meds...then get back to me.
I think the meds may play a part.
My sister-in-law had a massive stroke last year. Tall, thin, early 40s. She was fairly healthy however, so she is slowly recovering. She still has not regained the use of one arm. We brought her home. Anyone interested in a condo is Kissimmee?
in Kissimmee, not is
Aloha to all...
Better than being coherent when Hillary or Osama ooops Obama president.
Luck to all...
Let’s see. Stress causes belly fat. But taxes force a lot of families to have both parents work, including women. And working outside of the home causes stress. Therefore, taxes cause belly fat in women.
This can be fixed with taxes being lowered so women can stay home and not stress out so much. Stroke levels should then return to 1950 levels.
Also, she was not on any medication and hadn’t seen a doctor as her attorney boss had discontinued her health insurance.
Close. Feminists caused belly fat.
“This can be fixed with taxes being lowered so women can stay home and not stress out so much. Stroke levels should then return to 1950 levels.”
Meds I fear are the reason.
(OT) We could also get off our dependency on mideast oil because half the cars would be on the road.
That’s about the same. Higher taxes, feminists, both have resulted in a lower standard of family life and health for the whole family, including women.
Yeah! I like that idea! Get half the cars off the road so women can stay home. I like that one alot. Wouldn’t need to build so much infrastructure either.
We must be kindred spirits.
Let women smoke!
You can pay $120 to see a doctor without insurance.
She put it off to put her daughter in college.
I’m with you; I wonder if they included women who were taking oral contraceptives/hormone replacement therapy - both of which can VASTLY increase one’s risk of stroke...
my cousin had a stroke at the age of 31. She was a smoker, her parents were both smokers.
I join the class of Angry White Men as an Angry White Woman. : )
I wonder. (Smoking is not good). Women have smoked for many years. What kind of lifestyle did your cousin have?
It will probably take a decade or longer for the medical community to recognize the cause, but I predict Micro Vascular Disease (MVD) will be implicated in this trend.
"She used the National Health and Nutrition Surveys, a federally funded project that gives periodic health checkups and questionnaires to a wide sample of Americans. Participants are routinely asked whether a doctor had ever told them they had had a stroke, and about 5,000 middle-aged people answered that question in each survey."
Some strokes affect memory. There could be under reporting.
Most of these 'medicines' are a complete and utter fraud! They play games with the cholesterol number but do squat as far as real health/healing.
I have a feeling that's exactly it, too. I have a friend who never smoked or drank, wasn't obese, but was on the pill for over thirty years. She got high blood pressure, phlebitis, and also had a stroke.
Whatever they are taking.
High Cholesteral, Blood Pressure, diet suppressants ect...
This would be the birth control generation, dontcha think?
Honestly, most people can't see a stroke coming. You're fine, then *bam*! - you're toast. If she had no risk factors, even a good doctor would've missed it.
And how many healthy people go to the doctor regularly? Yes, we get our colons checked out at 50 and breasts at 40 and the annual "girl" check-up, but other than that, we take the approach that if it ain't broke don't fix it.
I don’t think it’s all obsesity. A friend of mine had a stroke at 37, weighed 120 lbs and was a long time user (nonsmoker) of birth control. Just saying...
Well, they can’t blame this on the old Dimetapp.
Well, they can’t blame this on the old Dimetapp.
That is what I was wondering too. Those two hormonal medications may be the link, not belly fat.
At the risk of getting ‘super’ flamed for this one...environmental factors that could play into this study is the increased use of ‘bottled water’ and the xenoestrogens leached into the water.
See the National Exposure Report from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/environmental_phenols1.htm#FullText
Cindy McCain had a stroke in 2004, age 50. Fortunately she seems completely recovered now.
In Gary Taubes book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” he points out that people on lowfat diets - yes, lowfat diets, have a greater risk for stroke. I think this was based on Japanese people, but still interesting. Anecdotal evidence here, and in my own life (my stepmom was a lowfat fanatic and had a stroke last year) points toward thin women, not heavier ones, having strokes. Doesn’t prove diddly, but it’s interesting.
You and me both!!
You may be more spot-on than you know.