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Friday, 29 September, 2000, 23:09 GMT 00:09 UK
Trumpet players 'risk stroke'
Trumpet players
Risks are lower for professional musicians, say doctors
Musicians who blow too hard into their trumpets or other wind instruments may be putting themselves at risk of stroke.

Research carried out by scientists in Germany has identified five cases where people suffered damage to blood vessels to the brain by playing an instrument, causing stroke.

In most cases, the instrument was a trumpet.

Dr Stefan Evers, of the University of Munster in Germany, said problems occur because of the amount of pressure being applied to blood vessels as a musician blows into the trumpet.

He said pressure on the chest and neck affects blood vessels in the brain causing them to rupture.


I am sure that stroke from playing an instrument is very unusual

A spokesman for The Stroke Association

There are two main types of stroke. The first occurs when a blood clot moves into the brain and this accounts for 85% of cases.

The other is when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and this is responsible for 15% of cases.

This is more likely to affect young people because some of their blood vessels may not have formed properly or may be weak compared to an adult.

An estimated 300 people under the age of 16 suffer a stroke every year in the UK.

Dr Evers highlighted the case of a 17-year-old who suffered a series of "mini-strokes" while playing the trumpet.

He said that in most of the cases they identified the individual had a predisposition to stroke.

Four of the five people they identified were amateur musicians. Dr Evers suggested that they were at particular risk compared with professionals.

Writing in the journal Neurology, he said professional musicians appeared to have an inborn or learned ability to control the pressure wind instruments place on their body.

Unusual

A spokesman for the Stroke Association in the UK said he was not surprised by the findings.

"Whilst we have not come across such a case ourselves, we are not overly surprised.

"There have been similar incidences where people have suffered a stroke while bending their head over a basin to have their hair washed at the hairdressers."

He added: "I am sure that stroke from playing an instrument is very unusual. We have not come across such cases."

At present, there is no direct treatment for reversing the damage to the brain caused by a stroke.

The only treatment for patients is rehabilitation through physical or occupational therapy.

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