Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D. is a licensed Psychologist in the state of Ohio (License #6083). She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from ...Read More
According to researcher Dr. Amytis Towfighi, who presented results of a study at the recent International Stroke Conference, the number of middle-aged American women experiencing strokes has surged dramatically. Two percent of women between the ages of 35 and 54 had a stroke during 1999 to 2004, compared to .5% of women in the same age group during 1998-1994.
Strokes, a disruption in the blood supply to the brain, are one of the most common causes of brain damage. Strokes are caused by blockages to blood vessels (called ischemic stroke), or when a blood vessel bursts (called hemorrhagic stroke). The risk factors for stroke include age, family history, heart disease, uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking. The most common side effects of stroke include impaired memory, language difficulties, and paralysis.
The rise in the rates of strokes in middle aged women is blamed on increases in their abdominal fat levels, body mass index (a ratio of height and weight that is often used as indicator of obesity), and blood sugar levels. Each of these indicators are risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, in addition to stroke.
Previously thought of a health concern primarily of older men, we now know that strokes are "equal opportunity" problems. Both men and women have several options when it comes to decreasing their risk of having a stroke. For more information on strokes, please see our recently updated topic center.