Women under 35 may have higher stroke risk than men

key takeaways

  • A new study finds that young women are 44 percent more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than young men.
  • The exact reason for this difference is unclear.
  • Experts recommend following a healthy lifestyle to reduce risk.

Stroke is uncommon among young people. But new data has found that younger women are more likely to have a stroke than men.

Meta-analysis published in the journal stroke, analyzed data from 16 studies on stroke incidence among 69,793 young adults between January 2008 and July 2021. The researchers found that women 35 and younger were 44 percent more likely to suffer from ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel in the brain. – than men of the same age group. In the 35- to 45-year-old population, there was no difference in stroke rates between the sexes.

The researchers also noted that younger women who had survived an ischemic stroke had “worse outcomes, two to three times higher risk of worse functional outcomes compared to their male counterparts.”

How to Treat a Stroke

What is an ischemic stroke?

There are two main types of stroke: ischemic (the most common type) and hemorrhagic stroke.

An ischemic stroke is usually caused by a blood clot blocking or blocking a blood vessel in the brain, preventing blood flow to the brain. Brain cells begin to die within minutes of an ischemic stroke. Ischemic stroke can also be caused by narrowing of arteries.

Another form of ischemic stroke is called a transient ischemic attack, which occurs when the blood supply to the brain is briefly interrupted. This usually indicates that you are at risk for a more serious stroke.

Each year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke, and about 610,000 of them have a first-time stroke.

what does this mean to you

While the risk of stroke in young adults is low, doing your best to lead a healthy lifestyle will help reduce your already low risk. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about a family history of stroke or blood clots.

Why are young women at higher risk?

This particular study didn’t investigate why younger women were more likely to have a stroke than younger men — it just found they were at greater risk. However, experts have some theories.

Because ischemic strokes are often caused by blood clots, certain risk factors for blood clots increase a woman’s risk of stroke, Amit Sachdev, MD, medical director of the Department of Neurology at Michigan State University, told VigorTip.

“In young women, two trends that may contribute to ischemic stroke are contraception and smoking, and contraceptives have a known risk of blood clots,” he said.

More strokes in southern states.that’s why

Among women aged 15-39, 17% used birth control pills, and about 11% used some form of long-acting reversible contraception, such as an IUD or implant.

Not all birth control methods increase the risk of birth control, Sachdev stressed, but “those that alter hormone levels are thought to carry a risk of blood clots.”

Women under 35 are also more likely to become pregnant, which raises blood pressure and the risk of blood clots and, ultimately, stroke, says Jennifer Wong, MD, a cardiologist and medical director of noninvasive cardiology at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular in Orange, Calif. Coastal Medical Center Institute told VigorTip.

Causes and Risk Factors of Stroke

Women are also more likely than men to develop systemic diseases such as lupus that increase the risk of blood clots, Wong added.

Overall, experts say more research needs to be done to investigate the link. “It’s interesting and does raise some interesting questions,” Wong said.

Still, Sachdev points out, “Stroke is rare among young people.”

To reduce the risk of stroke at any age, Sachdev recommends trying a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking.

“If you have a blood clot in your home, ask your doctor about your own risk,” Sachdev said. “Clotting risk may be inherited.”