Stroke: People with a common disorder could be ‘three times’ more likely to have a stroke

Oklahoma dad suffers stroke after cracking his neck

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Strokes exist in two forms. Haemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts, causing an internal bleed. An Ischaemic stroke, on the other hand, occurs when a blood clot becomes lodged in an artery, causing blood flow to cease. Fortunately, 90 percent of strokes are preventable through lifestyle changes. However, the findings of one study imply that individuals with OCD may have a higher likelihood of suffering a stroke.

One 2021 study published in the journal Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, found that adults who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are more than three times more likely to have an ischaemic stroke later in life.

The findings suggest that adults in this group should put greater emphasis on adopting healthier lifestyle habits.

Healthcare providers should also closely monitor patients with OCD for an increased risk of ischaemic stroke.

OCD is a common mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and behaves compulsively.

READ MORE: Ischemic stroke: The two peculiar sensations felt in your limbs being early warning signs

The NHS explains: “OCD can affect men, women and children. Some people start having symptoms early, often around puberty, but it usually starts during early adulthood.”

The study authors explained that the obsessive behaviours that characterise OCD – such as handwashing – can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activity.

The condition is rife in the UK.

According to OCD UK, current estimates for the UK population suggest there are around three-quarters of a million people living with OCD at any one time.

For their study, researchers examined data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Database.

The team focussed on the stroke risk between 28,064 adults with OCD and 28,064 otherwise healthy individuals.

They then compared the stroke risk among both groups over a period of 11 years.

The results revealed that adults with OCD were more than three times as likely to have a stroke from a blood clot compared to adults who did not have OCD.

What’s more, OCD remained an independent risk factor for ischaemic stroke after controlling for other factors known to increase stroke risk, including obesity, heart disease smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

Ya-Mei Bai, professor in the department of psychiatry at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital and National Yang-Ming Chiao Tung University College of Medicine, said: “The results of our study should encourage people with OCD to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as quitting or not smoking, getting regular physical activity and managing a healthy weight to avoid stroke-related risk factors.

“For decades, studies have found a relationship between stroke first and OCD later.

“Our findings remind clinicians to closely monitor blood pressure and lipid profiles, which are known to be treated to stroke in patients with OCD.

“More research is needed to understand how the mental processes connected to OCD may increase the risk of ischaemic stroke.”

Because the study was observational, researchers were unable to establish a cause and effect relationship.

Another limitation was that only strokes among patients who sought health care were included, so some cases may have been missed.

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