Dr. Oz: Young Women At Risk For a Stroke In Their 20s, 30s and 40s!
Stroke occurs when a part of the brain is deprived of blood supply and the brain cells die due to lack of oxygen. For a long time, it was understood that stroke happens in older individuals, however, statistics show a different trend. More and more young people are suffering stroke in the United States and an alarming number of them are women. Statistical models predict, this year alone, more than 400,000 young women in America will suffer a stroke and one in five of them will die. Dr Oz called it, “the new face of stroke”. Strokes in young women have risen more than 40% in 10 years. Although, strokes are more common in women than men, the unpredictable nature of it is the major concern.
The big question remains, “can stroke be prevented?”. In a recent episode on his show, Dr Oz discussed this issue with women who volunteered to describe their experiences of stroke and shared tips on how to react in the event of a stroke, what are the warning signs and what to do immediately to avert a more severe outcome like paralysis or even death.
Five women were on the show, their age ranging from 25-39 years. Lisa was 34 when she had stroke. She experienced pain on the back of her neck that radiated down her right arm; she also experienced nausea and vomiting including blurred vision on her right eye. Incidentally, she was in the hospital at that time and was misdiagnosed as having a cardiac problem with migraine and was never treated for stroke. Dr Oz explained with the help of an animated model what might have actually happened in Lisa’s case. The blood vessels that carry blood to the vital organs gets branched off into finer capillaries in tissues that won’t allow suspended particles beyond a particular size to pass. Sometimes it may so happen that a piece of plaque tears off from a certain area in a bigger vessel and travels along the smaller vessels into the capillaries and gets lodged into a deep area of the brain, thereby blocking the blood supply to those areas. This is called brain attack, very similar to heart attack and causes the symptoms that Lisa experienced. Contrary to the prevailing idea that the chances of this attack are more in older individuals, more and more young women are found to be victims of such attack. Dr Carolyn Brockington, MD and Director of the Stroke Center at the St.Luke’s-Roosevelt at New York city was a guest on the show who discussed elaborately at length the changing face of stroke, as more and more younger people are diagnosed, and why it is important for young women to know the symptoms and risk factors and to be vigilant.
Dr. Oz: Risk Factors For Strokes In Young Women
Migraine is the first risk factor for stroke in young women. Dr Brockington mentioned the similarity in the way blood vessels behave during migraine and stroke. The tension in the vessels increase and the fluid pressure in them presses on the surrounding nerves causing enormous pain in migraine. The same sequence of events can happen in stroke. Therefore, we need to be extra careful in judging a migraine and not to write off the possibility of a stroke in migraine patients.
2) Neck Movement
A certain kind of neck movement is also a risk factor for stroke. A particular irregular posture that presses neck arteries for a long period of time can cause blood to clot in those arteries called vertebral dissection. Actually a blood vessel gets torn by hyper-extension and blood leaks and clots. These clots can travel to brain causing a stroke. According to Dr Brockington, dissections are very common in young women, she being witness to a number of cases arising from hair drying to roller-coaster rides to yoga. Therefore, her advice to the audience was to be careful about their postures in order to prevent a dissection and eventual stroke.
3) Birth Control Pills
The third common risk factor for young women is birth control pills. The reason could be attributed to the changing hormonal milieu in the body. Birth control pills alter the hormones in the body causing the blood to become thicker thereby more sensitive to forming clots. Pregnancy and giving birth harbors the same risk for stroke in young women owing to the same hormonal fluctuations. Dr Brockington advises to consult the risks with physicians so that these can be minimized or prevented by therapy.
The Common Stroke Risk Factors For Men and Women:
The most common and hard-to-ignore risk factors are:
- Family history
- Cigarette smoking
- Being overweight by ten pounds or more
- High blood pressure.
Dr. Oz: The Stroke Symptoms You Need To Know
How do we know if we are going to have a stroke? If there is one word that young women need to remember, it is “sudden”. As Dr Brockington warned, the symptoms of stroke come up all on a sudden, not over days and weeks but seconds and minutes. We need to realize that if we experience symptoms like difficulty in speech or hearing or any loss of motor function all of a sudden, we are actually having a stroke.
The symptoms in women are generally numbness or weakness on one side of the body, trouble speaking, sudden strong headache etc. It is absolutely important for a stroke patient to receive medical attention right away. The more time elapsed after a stroke, the brain cells lose their ability to get repaired and they die causing irreversible injury to the stroke affected brain areas. Therefore, her advice to all young women and all other people was to keep themselves watchful for the above-mentioned symptoms and be ready to alert somebody (the best bet is 911) and inform that we are having a stroke. The ambulances are equipped to respond to stroke situations and will bring the patient to the nearest stroke center right away.