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Thursday, July 2, 1998 Published at 20:06 GMT 21:06 UK


Health

Get married - live longer

Married people are at less risk of stroke

Researchers have found a possible way to reduce the chances of suffering a stroke - get married.

Australian researchers examined hospital and death records of 2,805 men and women over the age of 60 during an eight-year period.

They discovered people who were married had a 30% lower risk of stroke. Married women, in particular, had a 46% lower risk of stroke.

More investigation into the apparent link is needed, the scientists say.

Lead author Dr Leon Simons, of St. Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, said: "The reasons for this are unclear. It may relate to differential benefits from social support in marriage."

Link with depression

The researchers also raised the possibility that clinical depression and stroke may share a common development.

"There is evidence from studies that changes in the brain are associated with onset of depression in late life," said Dr Simons.

"These changes appear to be associated with vascular risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes, but this will require confirmation in future studies."

Other well known risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and suffering a prior stroke.

Impaired breath increases risk


[ image: Breathing difficulties are a risk factor]
Breathing difficulties are a risk factor
But the Australian study, reported in the journal Stroke, also suggested that impaired breathing may increase stroke risk.

Patients whose breathing - peak expiratory flow - was most impaired by chronic bronchitis had a 77% higher risk for having a stroke when compared to those whose breathing was the least impaired.

Dr Simons said: "The relationship between impaired peak expiratory flow and ischemic stroke has not, to our knowledge, been previously reported."

An ischemic stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off. Nearly 80% of strokes are ischemic.

People in the study who had a prior stroke had a 227% higher risk of having another stroke.

Irregular heartbeat

Those who had the highest blood pressure readings had a 67% higher risk of a stroke, and people who had an irregular heartbeat - a condition known as atrial fibrillation - had a 58% higher risk of a stroke.

The study found that women had a 48% lower risk of having a stroke and those who had high blood levels of good, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol also had a reduced risk. People who were physically disabled had a 59% higher risk of stroke.

"These findings suggest that death and illness associated with ischemic stroke can be predicted by various clinical indicators, some of which may be amenable to intervention," said Dr Simons.



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