American Heart Association

Researchers Find Surprising Stroke Risks

New research shows drug use, gender, race and even weather can impact stroke risks.

By Jasmine Bailey | February 12, 2014

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and now researchers have pinpointed a few key causes, and why it could be difficult to recover after suffering from one. First up, weather. 

"Yale University researchers ... found larger daily temperature changes and higher air moisture were linked to increase in stroke hospitalization rates." (Via NECN)

And then there's gender — women are at a higher risk of suffering from stoke. 

"Women have very unique risk... but most of those issues are reproductive and hormonal." (Via The Washington Post / American Heart Association)

Women also have more problems when it comes to recovery. According to researchers at Wake Forest Stroke Center, women who have suffered a stroke and are married have a better quality of life than those who aren't. That's reportedly because women who are not married are often alone after a stroke. 

But the list continues — narcotics, specifically cocaine increase risk. According to WebMD, within 24 hours of using, a person's risk of stroke increases by as much a seven percent. 

An assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine explained, "Cocaine use can result in the constriction of blood vessels; increased heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure; and decreased oxygen supply to the brain... These physiological effects may boost the risk of stroke."

Children are also at risk and not recognizing stroke symptoms in children can lead to delayed diagnosis. Warning signs in children are similar to those in adults. (Via American Stroke Association

"Know the sudden signs... face drooping ... Arm weakness ... speech difficulty... time to call 911." (Via American Heart Association

Everyday health points out race also plays a role in stroke risk. "African Americans were 35 times more likely to die after stroke if they had had an infection in the previous 30 days, compared with a less than fourfold increase in deaths for whites in the same circumstances." 

Some ways to decrease stroke risk include maintaining a healthy life style by not smoking, keeping track of blood pressure and cholesterol levels — diet and exercise are important too. (Via National Stroke Association

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