New risk factors that may trigger stroke: Sex, coffee and anger

According to a new study people who have a Brain Aneurysm may be at a higher risk of stroke while drinking coffee, having sex or even getting angry. Although the risk is extremely small, people who have aneurysms should be careful, said Dr Sahil Parikh, assistant professor of medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Centre in Cleveland. “For those patients who do have aneurysms, it would be advisable to avoid those behaviours,” said Parikh, who’s familiar with the study findings.

Aneurysms occur when the wall of an artery weakens and bulges out. These can occur anywhere in the body, but are particularly dangerous in the brain, where they can cause a haemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke if they burst.

In the study, published online May 5 in the journal Stroke, researchers asked 250 patients who had suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm about their exposure to 30 possible triggers before the haemorrhage. The results showed that being startled raised the risk of burst aneurysm in someone who already has an aneurysm by the highest level -- 23-fold. Anger boosted the risk by 6 times. Coffee raised it 2 fold, cola 3 fold, straining for defecation 7 fold, sexual intercourse 11 fold, nose blowing and vigorous physical activity 2 fold. The actual reason behind these connections seems to be higher blood pressure, said study lead author Dr. Monique H.M. Vlak, since all eight activities cause blood pressure to rise.

“Reducing caffeine consumption or treating constipated patients with unruptured IAs with laxatives may lower the risk of subarachnoid haemorrhage,” Dr Vlak said. “Whether prescribing antihypertensive (blood pressure lowering) drugs to patients with unruptured IAs is beneficial in terms of preventing aneurysmal rupture still needs to be further investigated.”

Vlak said about two per cent of the population has a brain aneurysm. They are often symptomless and frequently harmless. “You shouldn’t be scared because the likelihood of this happening is extremely rare,” said Parikh. “I would encourage patients not to worry excessively about it and consult with their doctor if they feel at risk of an aneurysm.” Even if you do have an aneurysm, it’s unlikely to bother you. “We think most aneurysms never rupture,” said Vlak, a neurologist at the Utrecht Stroke Centre at University Medical Centre in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Risk of Stroke & lifestyle

In another survey by the American Stroke Association it was revealed that Americans between ages 18 and 24 believe they're living healthy lifestyles, but most of them eat too much fast food, drink too many alcoholic and sugar sweetened beverages and engage in other behaviours that could put them at risk of stroke.

Ironically, nine out of 10 of them think they're living healthy lifestyles. While, on average, they want to live to age 98, a third of the 18 to 24-year-olds don't believe in engaging in healthy behaviours now could affect their risk of stroke in the future, and 18 percent could not identify at least one stroke risk factor.

In the United States, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds. Thankfully, the prognosis for stroke victim has improved over the years, provided the victim receives proper treatment in a timely manner.

The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association are using this month, Stroke Awareness Month, to add momentum to their goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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