Stroke: Your height may determine your risk of dying from a stroke warns new study

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Every one in six people will experience a stroke in their lifetime, with a quarter of such cases resulting in death within a year. Some major causes for stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. However, researchers now believe that women who shrink are almost twice as likely to die from a stroke.

Academics from the University of Gothenburg, recruited female participants aged between 30 and 60, measuring their height over the course of a decade.

The researchers noted that women tend to suffer more height loss than men, and recruited nearly 2,5000 subjects from Sweden and Denmark born in the early 20th century, following their lives for 19 years.

During the study, 625 women died, and the average woman lost 0.8cm in height between measurements.

The median height at the outset of the study was 163cm, or 5ft4in.

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Researchers noted, however, that the height loss among the women was highly variable, with some women not losing height, and one shrinking by 14cm.

For the Swedish cohort, the team found that women who lost more than 2cm (0.8in) in height were 74 percent more likely to die during the follow-up study. Results for the Danish cohort were similar, at 80 percent.

They wrote: “In this study of middle-aged Nordic women, major height loss was associated with an increased hazard of overall mortality of around 80 percent.

“Specifically, major height loss was associated with cardiovascular disease mortality, with more than a twofold risk for stroke mortality.”

The team also noted that while all cause mortality increased for shrinking women, the biggest risk factor was for strokes, with results showing that women with major height loss were 2.3 more likely to die of a stroke.

Strokes deprive brain cells of oxygen, and are one of the most common causes of death, and the leading cause of preventable disability.

When someone experiences a stroke, quick medical care is critical, and can often avoid permanent brain damage.

Although the brain makes up just two percent of the body’s mass, it consumes up to 20 percent of the oxygen in the blood.

Oxygen is carried to the brain through a system of arteries, which divide into smaller vessels which supply billions of neurons with oxygen. If the blood flow to the brain is interrupted, oxygen delivery stops, causing brain cells to die.

According to the Stroke Association, there are two common types of stroke:

Hemorrhagic strokes: This type of stroke occurs when a perforated vessel allows blood to leak out.

Ischemic stroke: This type of stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a vessel, bringing blood flow to a halt.

Oxygen deprivation slows brain function, and can have sudden noticeable effects, including slurred speech and muscle weakness on one side of the body.

Eventually, oxygen deprived cells in the brain start to die, leading to brain damage which may be severe or permanent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the vast majority – nearly 90 percent – of strokes can be prevented through a healthy diet coupled with regular physical activity.

Equally, reducing consumption or smoking and alcohol can prevent the arteries from becoming clogged with fatty substances.

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