Greater Risk Around the Middle

   By drodriguez  Mar 29, 2008

The new alarming health trend of women at greater risk of suffering stroke has many people in the medical community very worried. A recent federal report from the National Health and Nutrition Survey reveals that the rate of strokes among middle-aged women has tripled in the last few years.

The survey results indicate that almost 2 percent of women age 35 to 54 reported suffering a stroke between 1999 and 2004. This is up from only a half a percent reported from the years 1988 to 1994. Another interesting aspect the survey revealed was that the male rate stayed the same at 1 percent in both surveys.

Most people who suffer strokes are in an older age group, but this spike in younger stroke victims is a very serious problem. Even though more women in the 1999 ? 2004 were taking medicines to lower cholesterol than those in previous they still reported 3 times as many incidences of stroke than before.

Dr. Amytis Towfighi, a neurology specialist at the University of Southern California, conducted a study to figure out what it was that changed in women over the last few years that would warrant such a drastic increase in strokes.

The study found that the traditional risk factors of smoking, heart disease or diabetes had not changed between the two surveys. The one thing that did stand out as a significant change was the increase of belly fat.

The amount of women who had abdominal obesity rose from 47 percent in the earlier survey to 59 percent in the latest. The change in belly fat was smaller for men in the survey. The new reports have doctors calling to re-examine the textbook idea that men are at a greater risk of stroke during middle age as these new numbers say the opposite.

What do you think of the latest research showing women are suffering strokes at a much higher rate than just a few years ago?

What do you think can be done to lower this rate?

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golferatgreenpond by golferatgreenpond | Easton, PA
Aug 14, 2008

My body is average but i always gain weight in my stomach. I think it's in the genes.

sireeshasri by sireeshasri | arizona city, HI
May 26, 2008


May 13, 2008

I too agree that education is key. A healthy diet and exercise are key. More fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Any type of cardio too is a big plus, even if you just walk. has a wonderful get fit plan on their website that you can join where you can get exercises to do without going to a gym.

rmhartsell by rmhartsell | Hoover, AL
May 13, 2008

With a father that died at a YOUNG age (43) and being an overweight female, I get really worried about my health. But, I think the solution (at least for me) is to have qualified medical professionals treat you.

julie66 by julie66 | VANCOUVER, WA
May 01, 2008

Thanks for the great information.

OceanPark by OceanPark | Santa Monica, CA
Apr 30, 2008

To me, this is another demonstration of how important it is to accurately represent women in medical research. So much of the current research on stroke and heart disease was done on men - we still don't really understand if there are differences for women, even as the risk to women grows. I've been learning more about women and heart disease (partly thanks to the Red Dress Project, which really opened my eyes) - but did not really think about stroke as a similar issue. While I definitely agree with all of you that exercise and lifestyle are key, what can we do to also improve research in this area?

deee by deee | royal oak, MI
Apr 23, 2008

I think exercise is the key. It's much too easy to hop in the car when groceries are needed. I've been trying to break myself of this habit by shopping more often (buying small quantities that I can easily carry) and walking to various markets. I'm lucky enough to live in an area where this is possible. I noticed the lack of obesity while traveling in Europe. People walk everywhere!

gbiffle16racegrl by gbiffle16racegrl | Valparaiso, IN
Apr 21, 2008

I agree with just about everyone here. I too am guilty of living the "American Lifestyle". I think maybe if the insurance companies took a step and offered a paid class that was manitory it would help inform people of what they are doing to their bodies, and what they can do to change it. In the long run this would save the insurance companies a lot of money too so, it should'nt be a big deal to toss a $20 bill to someone for an hour of their time. Just a thought.

bigKCfan by bigKCfan | lawton, OK
Apr 20, 2008

I just read an article that said that laying off processed foods such as white rice, white bread, pasta, etc would make a big difference. This makes since to me because my mom had to back off of these things because of chlosterol and she was talking about how much smaller her stomach has become since.

chilibean by chilibean | Rochester, PA
Apr 16, 2008

I agree with deerland, I have always been thin and never worried to much about my health until I started to ache all over with arthritus but my husbands a walker & I started walking with him & it does help.

deerland by deerland | lisbon, CT
Apr 15, 2008

This is such a hard area for me. I have always been thin, but injured my back and have gained weight in the stomach area. I don't know how to get rid of it since I can't really excercise. Suggestions?

Tracee by Tracee | Shakopee, MN
Apr 15, 2008

This is very concerning, we all have to watch out for warnings.

OtterKim by OtterKim | ST PETERSBURG, FL
Apr 14, 2008

I am very concerned about my heart health. My father died 2 years ago, so my risk factors are higher than normal. I go in cycles where I get very concerned, and then I start to slack off again when under stress, etc. At least I am aware...

linda_answer by linda_answer | SAINT LOUIS, MO
Apr 14, 2008

I think having a good doctor is a big help. Many doctors still see men as having more heart risk than women. I had a good doctor that did something about my blood pressure when I was 37. I was not oveweight, and otherwise very healthy. He got me on meds and my blood pressure is still good to this day, and I am now a healthy 51. Now I am a little heavier but still in a healthy range although the middle is the hardest place to lose weight! My doctor retired a few years ago and my new one is fantastic too. He has me take an aspirin everyday when I wake up in the morning. He is very heart conscious with me and is pleased with my blood pressure readings for the most part My hubby is a former nurse and takes my blood pressure once a week so if I see a spike in the readings I can call my doctor. So far so good.... My doctor thinks it is my family history more than anything. My Dad was always the perfect weight and still had high blood pressure. He lived to the ripe age of 90. My poor Mom had breast cancer but what killed her was a fatal stroke at the age of 48. The key is education, a willingness to take care of onesslf, and having a GP who is very aware of women's risk. Thank God for the internet. Some of our parents and grandparents did not have that and if they didnt read about things like that, they were left uninformed. But when it is all said and done, no matter how good of a doctor you have and what info there is out there. we have to take the initiative to take of ourselves. I was only 8 when I lost my Mom from a stroke so I know first hand how a stroke can change a family forever. Be heart healthy!

touchedbyaangel by touchedbyaangel | Powell, TN
Apr 12, 2008

Bless your heart! That was so young! Did you have any warning signs ?