Taking birth control pills can influence a woman’s risk of stroke. So can migraines and menopause.
Even though women die of stroke at a greater rate than men – it’s their third leading cause of death, compared to men’s fifth – many aren’t aware they have a unique set of risk factors.
“If you are a woman, you share many of the same risk factors for stroke with men, but your risk is also influenced by hormones, reproductive health, pregnancy, childbirth and other sex-related factors,” said Dr. Cheryl Bushnell, author of a new statement published in Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association.
The statement, issued Thursday by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, lays out for the first time a set of stroke prevention guidelines for doctors and their female patients.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are stroke risk factors for both women and men. But other risk factors including migraine with aura, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, depression and emotional stress are more common in women.
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In the research vitamin D levels were measured in 678 mothers in the later stages of pregnancy.
When the children were four years old, grip strength and muscle mass were measured. Results showed that the higher the levels of vitamin D in the mother, the higher the grip strength of the child, with an additional, but less pronounced association between mother’s vitamin D and child’s muscle mass.
Lead researcher Dr Nicholas Harvey, Senior Lecturer at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU) at the University of Southampton said that these associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health; muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age and low grip strength in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes including diabetes, falls and fractures.