Artificially Sweetened Drinks Found To Triple Your Risk of Stroke & Dementia
By Arjun Walia

Artificial sweeteners have been a controversial topic for a long time, and despite a harsh industry response, multiple studies have implicated them in a host of health issues, including diabetes and cancer. Now, a new study has emerged out of Boston University showing that drinking diet soda regularly nearly triples your risk of developing stroke or dementia.

The study, titled “Sugar and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Risks of Incident Stroke and Dementia, A Prospective Cohort Study,” was published in the journal Stroke earlier this year.

Researchers gathered data from approximately 3,000 adults, and separated them into two categories. In people older than 45 years old, they looked at stroke risk, and for people older than 60 they concentrated on dementia. After the study, their results showed that drinking diet soda nearly triples your risk of developing stroke or dementia. The study lasted for a decade, at the researchers “observed 97 cases of incident stroke (82) and 81 cases of incident dementia (63 consistent with Alzheimer’s disease).

This is truly eye-opening, but shouldn’t really come as a surprise, although it is a one of a kind study examining whether artificially sweetened beverage consumption is associated with risks of stroke or dementia.

It’s interesting, because the study also found that sugar-sweetened beverages were not associated with stroke or dementia like artificially sweetened beverages are.

Sudha Seshadri, MD, senior study author, neurology professor and faculty member at Boston University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center told Science Daily:

These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it’s strong data and a very strong suggestion. It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn’t seem to help. Maybe good old-fashioned water is something we need to get used to.”

Dr. Josh Axe sums up the problem quite well in a statement on his website:

Whether it’s “real” sugar or we’re talking about high fructose corn syrup dangers related to soda, the science is clear. The sugar industryscandal of the 1950s and ’60s set a dietary disaster into motion. Faulty sugar industry-funded studies shifted public perception, tricking people into thinking fat, not sugar, was the nutritional villain.”

Keep in mind that there is a lot of controversy surrounding the difference between, let’s say, sugar from fruit and sugar in the form of artificial sweeteners of high fructose corn syrup.

Another author of this study, Mathew Pase, also published research in March of 2017 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia. For this study, researchers used data and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and cognitive testing results, from about 4,000 people. The focus here was on people who consumed more than two sugary drinks per day of any type, and more than three per week of soda.

Among the “high intake” group, researchers discovered several signs of accelerated brain aging that all correlated with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. They also found that at least one diet soda per day was associated with smaller brain volume.

Other Factors To Consider: The Example of Aspartame

Artificial sweeteners have been linked to a cascade of negative health effects by many researchers, but it still remains a controversy, especially because the industry itself thrives on making people feel stupid for even questioning these things.

But there are other factors to consider beyond the science, and that’s industry influence and scientific fraud, something that is, unfortunately, abundant in today’s world.

For example, when it comes to artificial sweeteners, did you know that aspartame failed to win FDA approval for 20 years? It was actually discovered by accident by chemist James M. Schlatter in 1965.

For 20 years, the FDA gave aspartame products the thumbs down mainly for the following safety issues and reasons:

  • Flawed data
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Fluid loss in your body

But pharmaceutical giant G.D. Searle – the makers of the NutraSweet and Equal brands – did not back down and knew that all it took was flexing political muscle. Read about how Donald Rumsfeld, the same powerful political figure in the Bush administration, proved instrumental in the FDA approval of aspartame in 1981 and the political appointments leading to it.

Here is a good summary of how aspartame became legalized in an article we published a few years ago. Dr. Joseph Mercola goes into more detail about it in his free E-BookHere is a publication from Harvard that also touches upon it, from what seems to be a neutral, but slight “pro-aspartame” side so you can get both sides of the debate.

We’ve (Collective-Evolution) have published numerous articles on aspartame; feel free to sift through them if interested.

The following is a very informative video about aspartame, and what many health practitioners believe to be the real truth behind this toxic sweetener, made by Dr. Joseph Mercola.

This article originally appeared on Collective Evolution.


Diet sodas may be tied to stroke, dementia risk

(CNN) Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests.

Artificially sweetened drinks, such as diet sodas, were tied to a higher risk of stroke and dementia in the study, which published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke on Thursday.
The study sheds light only on an association, as the researchers were unable to determine an actual cause-and-effect relationship between sipping artificially sweetened drinks and an increased risk for stroke and dementia. Therefore, some experts caution that the findings should be interpreted carefully.
No connection was found between those health risks and other sugary beverages, such as sugar-sweetened sodas, fruit juice and fruit drinks.
Are diet sodas dangerous to your health?

Are diet sodas dangerous to your health? 04:19
“We have little data on the health effects of diet drinks and this is problematic because diet drinks are popular amongst the general population,” said Matthew Pase, a senior research fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and lead author of the new study.
“More research is needed to study the health effects of diet drinks so that consumers can make informed choices concerning their health,” he said.
The new study involved data on 2,888 adults older than 45 and 1,484 adults older than 60 from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. The data came from the Framingham Heart Study, a project of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Boston University.
In the older-than-45 group, the researchers measured for stroke and in the older-than-60 group, they measured for dementia.
“The sample sizes are different because we studied people of different ages,” Pase said. “Dementia is rare in people under the age of 60 and so we focused only on those aged over 60 years for dementia. Similarly, stroke is rare in people aged under 45 and so we focused on people older than age 45 for stroke.”
How diet soda confuses your body

How diet soda confuses your body 01:52
The researchers analyzed how many sugary beverages and artificially sweetened soft drinks each person in the two different age groups drank, at different time points, between 1991 and 2001. Then, they compared that with how many people suffered stroke or dementia over the next 10 years.
Compared to never drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks, those who drank one a day were almost three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke, caused by blocked blood vessels, the researchers found.
They also found that those who drank one a day were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
Those who drank one to six artificially sweetened beverages a week were 2.6 times as likely to experience an ischemic stroke but were no more likely to develop dementia, Pase said.
“So, it was not surprising to see that diet soda intake was associated with stroke and dementia. I was surprised that sugary beverage intake was not associated with either the risks of stroke or dementia because sugary beverages are known to be unhealthy,” Pase said.
Unhealthy sugary drinks

In response, Lauren Kane, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association, issued a statement from the group that said low-calorie sweeteners found in beverages have been proven safe by worldwide government safety authorities.
“The FDA, World Health Organization, European Food Safety Authority and others have extensively reviewed low-calorie sweeteners and have all reached the same conclusion — they are safe for consumption,” the statement said.
“While we respect the mission of these organizations to help prevent conditions like stroke and dementia, the authors of this study acknowledge that their conclusions do not — and cannot — prove cause and effect. And according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), many risk factors can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing stroke and dementia including age, hypertension, diabetes and genetics. NIH does not mention zero calorie sweeteners as a risk factor,” the statement said. “America’s beverage companies support and encourage balanced lifestyles by providing people with a range of beverage choices — with and without calories and sugar — so they can choose the beverage that is right for them.”
Separate previous studies have shown an association between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and adverse health effects, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and possibly even heart failure.
“This article provides further evidence though on artificially sweetened beverages and their possible effects on vascular health, including stroke and dementia,” said Dr. Ralph Sacco, professor and chair of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, about the new study.
Sacco was a co-author of an editorial published alongside the study in the journal Stroke on Thursday.
“We believe the pathways of which artificially sweetened beverages would affect the brain are probably through vascular mechanisms,” Sacco said.
“When the authors controlled for hypertension and diabetes and obesity the effects diminish, which implies that some of the effects of artificially sweetened beverages could still be going through a vascular pathway,” he said about the new study. “Many strokes are caused by hardening of arteries; and the risk of dementia is also increased by the hardening of arteries in large and small vessels. So, I believe the mechanisms may be through vascular disease, though we can’t prove it.”
Heather Snyder, senior director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association, called the new study “a piece of a larger puzzle” when it comes to better understanding how your diet and behaviors impact your brain.
“It’s actually really more of your overall diet and overall lifestyle that is linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk, and we do know that heart disease and diabetes are linked to an increased risk of dementia,” said Snyder, who was not involved in the new study.
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“We know that sugary and artificially sweetened beverages are not great for us. This study adds strength to that, and also says they may not be great for your brain, specifically,” she said. “There are alternatives — things we can all do everyday to keep our brains and our bodies as healthy as we can as we age.” Alternatives such as regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates heart rate and increases blood flow and doing puzzles and games to activate and challenge the mind. These are recommendations from the Alzheimer’s Associations list of 10 lifestyle habits to reduce risk of cognitive decline.

Shimon Peres’ condition remains unchanged a week after stroke (VERY VERY GOOD!!!)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Treatment for former Israeli President Shimon Peres, who suffered a massive stroke a week ago, remains unchanged following the results of a CT scan.

Peres, 93, remains in serious but stable condition, his office said Wednesday in a statement.

The statement said that the ninth president of Israel has made “advancements” toward breathing by himself.

Taking that into consideration, the statement said, “the president’s medical team has decided to continue a conservative treatment plan and constant monitoring of his neurological status.”

Peres was taken to Sheba Medical Center Oct 13 after telling his doctor that he felt weak. He had a pacemaker implanted a week prior.

He was put on anesthesia and a respirator following the stroke to aid in recovery.

Peres was diagnosed in July with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm. In January, the veteran statesman had a heart attack and then cardiac angioplasty to open a blocked artery. He was hospitalized twice more with chest pains.

Peres, who retired as president in 2014 after more than half a century in public life, including a stint as prime minister, won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

He has been very active since retiring as president, especially in his work with the Peres Center for Peace, which he founded.

Peres’s condition ‘somewhat improved,’ yet still serious after stroke


Former president Shimon Peres remained in serious but stable condition on Wednesday morning after suffering a severe stroke Tuesday night, said Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer Director Yitzhak Kreiss.

Later on Wednesday Kreiss said in a press conference that the senior statesman’s condition had “somewhat improved.”

Kreiss said that doctors had opted not to perform surgery on the retired statesman at the moment.
The veteran 93-year-old politician had just last week undergone placement of a cardiac pacemaker at the hospital and was discharged in good condition. He returned to the hospital for a checkup, but suddenly suffered a stroke.

Peres’s personal Doctor Rafi Walden said that during the night he had been responsive and held family member’s hands.

Ayelet Frish, the former president’s communications consultant, said Tuesday that Peres “woke up this morning at his home with palpitations and a feeling of constriction in his chest.”

Peres had complained of chest pains and had difficulty breathing. His personal physician is also his son-in-law, Prof. Rafi Walden, who is a leading surgeon and deputy director of Sheba. After hearing of his complaints, he took him to the hospital for tests.

It was learned late on Tuesday that he suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures (usually caused by uncontrolled hypertension).

It is also unknown whether there was any connection between the insertion of the pacemaker – to ensure a regular heartbeat – and the stroke.

Sheba director-general Prof. Kreiss said that Peres, in the intensive care unit, had suffered “lots of bleeding.”

“The 9th President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, suffered a major stroke today,” said Kreiss. “He is being treated by the best doctors in the hospital from across the medical fields. He underwent a number of scans and is currently sedated and intubated.

“He is in intensive care and we are monitoring him constantly. In the coming hours we will conduct further examinations and will update regarding his condition,” the doctor noted.

Shortly after, Peres’ son Chemi asked people to pray for his father as he spoke to reporters outside the hospital.

“These are difficult hours for me and my family. I want to start by thanking the medical staff at Tel Hashomer who are assessing my father and consulting with the family. There will come a time when we will need to take some decisions. Everything is dependent on how things develop and we don’t know more than that at present.”

He added: “The family are all gathering at the hospital and we will continue to update. We are receiving a huge number of messages from Israel and abroad from all our friends who are surrounding us with love and care. I want to tell them all that there was nothing more important to my father than Israel and its people. My father is one of a kind, I am praying for him and ask all those that pray to continue to pray with us. We thank everyone for your love and care.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter that he and the entire people of Israel love him and hope he has a complete recovery.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog wrote on Twitter that he hopes Peres recovers quickly. He said he hopes Peres will soon “resume making his clear, smart and enlightened voice heard.”

President Reuven Rivlin said: “I am following with concern the updates from the hospital, and pray together with the entire people for my friend Shimon’s recovery.”

News of his falling ill aroused much concern, with calls from all over the country and the world. Initially, the office of the ninth president said Peres was “conscious and in stable condition, but suddenly, his condition took a turn for the worse. It was announced that he was put under sedation to ease the continued treatment, and was connected to a respirator.

He was then taken for a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the brain for a “complete and accurate assessment of his condition,” the spokeswoman of his office said.

The longest serving of all of Israel’s public servants, Peres completed his seven-year term of office as president of the State of Israel just two weeks shy of his 91st birthday.

Born in Wiszniewo, Poland, he was one of the founders of the Labor-Zionist Youth Movement and a member of the Hagana during the pre-state period. He became director-general of the Defense Ministry at age 29 and was a member of the Knesset from 1959 to 2007.

He served in different political parties, namely Mapai, Rafi, the Alignment, Labor and Kadima.

Peres spent a long period as Labor Party chairman, and held a string of government roles including two non-consecutive stints as prime minister, and over the years he was minister of Immigrant Absorption, Transportation, Information, Defense, Communications, (or Posts and Telegraphs as it was known then), Internal Affairs, Religious Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Regional Cooperation.

He served in some of these positions more than once.

He also had various stints as acting prime minister, deputy prime minister and vice prime minister.

Peres is one of the architects of the Oslo Accords. In recognition of his work for that famous agreement, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, an honor he shared with former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat and former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Middle-Age Fitness Helps Ward Off Stroke Later

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 9, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Physical fitness in middle age may lower your risk of stroke after 65, a new study finds.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that healthy mid-life behaviors pay off as we age, and lower our risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke,” said Dr. Ralph Sacco, chairman of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He was not involved in the study.

Among nearly 20,000 adults in their mid to late 40s, researchers found the most fit had a 37 percent lower risk of having a stroke after 65, compared with the least fit.

The protective effect of fitness remained even after the researchers accounted for risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressuretype 2 diabetes and an abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation.

“Incorporating exercise and regular physical activity in one’s day-to-day routine is important to improve fitness and lower risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in older age,” said lead researcher Dr. Ambarish Pandey. He is a cardiology fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.

Pandey said an exercise routine should include aerobic exercise (such as joggingswimmingwalking or biking), plus strengthening exercise (such as free weights or strength-training machines).

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability, Pandey noted.

Most strokes occur when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain, cutting off blood and oxygen. This causes brain cells to die and can leave permanent disability.

Pandey speculated that exercise might help prevent stroke by keeping blood vessels healthier and lowering inflammation that can affect their function.

The findings suggest doctors should consider low fitness levels a risk factor for stroke, the study authors said.

While lifelong fitness is best for optimum health, starting later in life is still beneficial. “It’s never too late to exercise to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke,” Pandey said.

The report was published online June 9 in the journal Stroke.

Pandey and colleagues analyzed 1999-2009 data from a study conducted by the Cooper Institute in Dallas. It used treadmill tests to measure heart and lung exercise capacity when participants were 45 to 50.

The most interesting finding in this study, Sacco said, was that the effect of fitness was independent of some traditional risk factors. “Diet was not evaluated and can also be linked to health fitness lifestyles,” Sacco said.

Sacco agreed it’s never too late to start getting fit to reap health benefits.

“Other studies have shown that physical activity, even among older individuals, can also lower stroke risk and be associated with less silent stroke and mental decline,” Sacco said. “However, among older adults it is important to check with your physician before you start more vigorous physical activity.”

Why Stroke in Middle Age Is More Deadly for Blacks Than Whites

THURSDAY, June 2, 2016 (HealthDay News) — A higher stroke rate — not differences in care after a stroke — is the reason why middle-aged black Americans are more likely to die from a stroke than whites, a new study suggests.

Researchers reviewed data from almost 30,000 people across the United States. At age 45, blacks were four times more likely to die of stroke than whites. By age 85, stroke death rates were the same for blacks and whites, the study showed.

But while middle-aged blacks were more likely than whites to die from a stroke, there were no black-white differences in the risk of death among stroke survivors, according to the study in the June 2 issue of the journal Stroke.

“The magnitude of public health burden of the racial disparity in stroke is staggering, with an estimated 22,384 ‘extra’ stroke events [occurring in black people in 2014],” study author George Howard, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, said in a journal news release.

The researchers said their findings show the need to boost efforts to prevent and control stroke risk factors that are more common in blacks, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Women With Migraine May Face Higher Threat of Heart Disease, Stroke

TUESDAY, May 31, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Women who suffer from migraine headaches may have a slightly increased risk of heart disease or stroke, a new study suggests.

“Migraine should be considered a marker for increased risk of cardiovascular disease, at least in women,” said lead researcher Dr. Tobias Kurth, director of the Institute of Public Health at Charite-Universitatsmedizin in Berlin, Germany.

But, Kurth cautioned that this study can’t prove that migraines cause heart attack or stroke, only that they may make these events more likely.

Also, men may be similarly affected. “We have no reason to believe that this is limited to women,” Kurth said.

Migraines are headaches marked by intense throbbing or pulsing, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. They had previously been linked to an increased risk for stroke, but this new study also ties them to possible heart attack, death and the need for heart surgery, the researchers noted.

“Physicians should be aware of the association between migraine and cardiovascular disease, and women with migraine should be evaluated for their risk,” Kurth said.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on more than 116,000 U.S. women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study II. At the start of the study, the women were aged 25 to 42, free from heart disease, and were followed from 1989 to 2011.

At the study’s start, 15 percent of the women had migraines. During 20 years of follow-up, more than 1,300 women had a heart attack or stroke and 223 died from one of those conditions, the researchers found.

Compared with women who did not have migraines, women who had migraines had a 50 percent greater risk for heart attack, stroke or surgery to open blocked heart arteries, the study suggested.

Specifically, women with migraines had about a 39 percent higher risk of heart attack, a 62 percent higher risk of stroke and a 73 percent higher risk of heart surgery, Kurth said.

In addition, migraine was linked with a 37 percent higher risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke, the findings suggested.

These associations remained after the researchers accounted for other risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, age and use of oral contraceptives.

The report was published May 31 in the journal BMJ.

Dr. Rebecca Burch is an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and co-author of an accompanying journal editorial. She said, “We can add migraine to the list of known risk factors for heart disease, which can be challenging because migraine tends to occur earlier in life and cardiovascular disease tends to show up later in life.”

The apparent increase in risk of heart disease and stroke related to migraines is likely to be small, so it may not make a large difference to an individual person, Burch said. “But because migraine is so common, that small increase in risk may be much more meaningful when we consider the population as a whole,” she said.

Since it isn’t known why there’s this apparent risk and what can be done to reduce it, Burch said her advice is “not to make any changes to the treatment of people with migraine based on these findings.

“It is important to make sure we are evaluating cardiovascular risk among women with migraine and doing what we know helps to reduce that risk, like advising regular exercise and managing blood pressure,” she said.

Lonely, isolated people may be prone to heart disease, stroke

TUESDAY, April 19, 2016 — Lonely and isolated people may face a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, researchers report.

Social isolation raised that risk by about 30 percent, exerting the same level of influence on heart health as risk factors such as anxiety and job stress, the British review found.

“Addressing loneliness and social isolation could have an important role in the prevention of two of the leading causes of ill health and mortality worldwide,” said lead researcher Nicole Valtorta, a research fellow in the department of health sciences at the University of York.

“We take risk factors like obesity and physical inactivity for granted, whereas we do not yet with social isolation and loneliness,” she said. “The data from our study support us taking it seriously.”

But this analysis could not prove that loneliness and social isolation caused heart problems or strokes, only that an association existed, she added.

“However, if we put the study findings into context, what we found is comparable in size to the effect of other psychosocial risk factors such as anxiety and job strain. Efforts to prevent heart disease and stroke could benefit from taking social isolation and loneliness into account,” Valtorta said.

The report was published online April 19 in the journal Heart.

For the study, Valtorta and her colleagues analyzed data from 23 previously published studies that, in total, included over 180,000 adults, more than 4,600 of whom had heart attacks, angina or died and more than 3,000 who had suffered strokes.

The pooled data showed that loneliness and social isolation were associated with a 29 percent increased risk of heart attack or angina attack and a 32 percent increased risk of stroke.

Loneliness has been linked in past research to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure and premature death, the researchers explained.

These findings suggest that loneliness and social isolation need to be taken seriously across the spectrum of medicine from medical education to guidelines and health care, said Julianne Holt-Lunstad. An associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, she co-authored an accompanying journal editorial.

Getting the lonely and isolated to interact with others is not an easy task, she acknowledged.

Connecting people through the internet, on Facebook and other social media might seem like a good idea, Holt-Lunstad said.

“However, there is some early research to suggest it may not have the same benefits as real person-to-person contact, but it is still too early to tell,” she said.

Good evidence exists that having regular contact with positive, supportive relationships is beneficial. The quality of the relationship is important, Holt-Lunstad said. “Thus, making time to foster and nurture existing relationships is a good start,” she said.

Feelings of loneliness can have a direct influence on physiological processes relevant to health and the heart specifically, Holt-Lunstad said.

“For instance, it can raise blood pressure and increase inflammation. These can subsequently increase risk for atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries] and a heart attack,” she said.

Being socially connected can also indirectly influence health by encouraging healthy behaviors and better adherence to medical treatment, such as taking medications and keeping appointments, Holt-Lunstad said.

“Given that the effect of social connections on risk for heart disease and stroke and death is equivalent and, in many cases, exceeds that of other factors such as light smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and air quality, we need to start taking social connection seriously for our health,” she said.

Obese women on the Pill may face higher risk of rare stroke

MONDAY, March 14, 2016 — Obese women who take oral contraceptives may have a higher risk for a rare type of stroke, a new study suggests.

Dutch researchers found that obese women on birth control pills were nearly 30 times more likely to develop this rare type of stroke, known as cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), compared with women of normal weight who didn’t take birth control pills.

But the chances of having this type of stroke in one’s lifetime remain very low, the researchers added. And the study wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

CVT affects just over one person per 100,000 each year, said study author Dr. Jonathan Coutinho. He’s a stroke neurologist at the Academic Medical Center at University of Amsterdam.

In the United States, that’s about 4,200 new patients annually, he said.

Coutinho added that CVT tends to occur mostly in children and young to middle-aged adults.

Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City, said the findings, while not that surprising, provide “an extra supporting piece of the puzzle.”

Obese women have a higher risk of clots, as do oral contraceptive users, she explained.

“When you put those two risk factors together, you get even higher risk of clots,” said Westhoff. She’s also editor-in-chief of the journal Contraception.

Overall, CVT is less disabling than other types of stroke caused by a blocked blood vessel (ischemic), as more than five of six patients have good long-term recovery and outcomes, said Dr. Chirantan Banerjee, an assistant professor of neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

“The challenge is that it is harder to diagnose sometimes, because patients can have nonspecific and variable symptoms that are not usually attributed to stroke, like headache, confusion, blurry vision or seizures,” he said.

The study was published online March 14 in the journal JAMA Neurology.

The study included 186 adult CVT patients, including men and women. Their strokes occurred from the mid-2000s through Dec. 31, 2014.

The study also included a control group of more than 6,000 healthy adults. These adults had taken part in a large Dutch study conducted from 1999 to 2004. That study looked at risk factors for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), blood clots that occur in the legs and lungs.

The researchers found that CVT patients were more often younger. Their median age was 40 compared to 48 for the control group, the study noted. They were also more likely to have a history of cancer. And, they were more likely to be female and users of oral contraceptives, the study found.

Obesity was associated with a nearly 30-fold increased risk of CVT, but only among women using birth control pills. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. BMI is a rough estimate of a person’s body fat using height and weight measurements.

“For us, it was especially surprising that obesity is only a risk factor in women who use oral contraceptives,” Coutinho said. “We would have expected it to be a risk factor in all patients and perhaps stronger in women on oral contraceptives.”

Coutinho and colleagues note that the study includes a relatively small number of CVT patients and relies on control subjects from an earlier time period. These and other limitations could have biased the results.

Still, they concluded that obese women should be informed about the risk of stroke if they use oral contraceptives, especially if they have other stroke risk factors.

In a related editorial, Banerjee said better counseling of obese women, including consideration of non-hormonal contraceptive options, “would be prudent.”

The study authors suggested that alternative methods of birth control could be offered to obese women. One option they suggested was an intrauterine device (IUD).

Hard work really can kill, as longer hours increase risk of stroke

It is said that hard work never killed anyone, but a new study suggests that staying late at the office could have a deadly impact on health.

Working just one extra hour a day increases the chance of suffering a stroke over the next eight and a half years by 10 per cent while people who toil away for 55 hours raise their risk by a third.

Those who spend longer at work were also more likely to develop heart disease. Worryingly it is heart surgeons who work some of the longest hours in Britain, with the average consultant spending 61.5 hours at their post each week, the longest of any medical professional.

Sudden death following long working hours is often caused by stroke, due to long and repeated periods of stress
Dr Mike Knapton,
British Heart Foundation

It is thought that the stress of long hours can trigger biological changes in the body which, over time, can lead to deadly disease.

“Health professionals should be aware that working long hours is associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke, and perhaps also coronary heart disease,” said Mika Kivimäki, Professor of Epidemiology at University College London.

Researchers looked at 25 studies involving more than 600,000 people across Europe, the US and Australia who had been followed for an average of 8.5 years.

Two bars of chocolate a day ‘lowers risk of stroke and heart disease’
Eat protein to lower stroke risk
Three to five cups of coffee a day could reduce the risk of heart attack

The higher risk remained even when taking into account factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity which are often associated with stressful jobs and longer hours.

Crucially the study showed that the longer people worked the higher their chance of having a stroke became. Compared with people who worked standard hours, those working between 41 and 48 hours had a 10 per cent higher risk of stroke, and those working 49 to 54 hours had a 27 per cent increased risk. Working 55 hours or more per week was linked to a 33 per cent greater risk of stroke.

Although the researchers could only say that long hours were ‘linked’ to strokes, health experts said it was ‘plausible’ that the stress of working too hard was to blame and urged doctors to take extra care to check for signs of heart problems in those with the most demanding jobs.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director, British Heart Foundation, said: “This research shows an association between long working hours and an increased risk of having a stroke and heart disease.

“It is plausible that there could be a causal relationship behind the link as sudden death following long working hours is often caused by stroke, due to long and repeated periods of stress, although that was not demonstrated in this study.

“This study highlights to doctors that they need to pay particular attention to cardiovascular risk factors when they advise people who work long hours.”

The average Briton works 36.7 hours per week, six hours more than people in the Netherlands. The Greeks put in the longest working week in Europe, averaging around 42 hours.

Previous studies have shown that working long hours can lengthen the time it takes for a woman to get pregnant. The University of California also found that workers who clocked more than 51 hours a week were 29 per cent more likely to have high blood pressure than those who worked 39 hours or fewer.

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Dr Tim Chico, Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine / consultant cardiologist, University of Sheffield, added: “For many people, reducing their working hours would be difficult or impossible, and this study does not show that it would reduce the risk of stroke.

“Most of us could reduce the amount of time we spend sitting down, increase our physical activity and improve our diet while working and this might be more important the more time we spend at work.

“We should all consider how the working environment could be altered to promote healthy behaviour that will reduce strokes, irrespective of how long we work.”

Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Urban Janlert from Umeå University in Sweden said the study showed it was more important than ever for companies to stick to the EU Working Time Directive which limits the working week to 48 hours.

The research was published in medical journal The Lancet.