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Middle-aged Women Twice As Likely To Have A Stroke As Men

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Middle-aged women are now more than twice as likely to have a stroke as men of the same age, a study reveals. Scientists suspect stress and weight gain are the main reasons why the number of women being struck down by these brain attacks suddenly rockets after the age of 45.


Until then a woman is no more at risk than a man. But rates of high blood pressure - the biggest cause of strokes - start to rise dramatically in the decade leading to a woman's 45th birthday, the study found. And in the decade after that women are 2.4 times more likely than men to have a stroke.


In the study, reported in the journal Neurology, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles monitored 17,000 people over six years. They found the incidence of stroke rising faster among women than men, which is backed by a recent report from Sweden.


Why there should be such a difference in stroke rate between the genders in mid-life is unclear, but clues have been found. Research at Osaka City University Medical School in Japan suggests stress is far more dangerous for women, in terms of triggering strokes, than it is for men. In California, they found men had higher cholesterol at 45 but stayed the same over the next two decades, while women overtook them. Also, burgeoning waistlines were found to increase the risk of stroke in women by 40 per cent.



1 July 2007



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