Men with divorced parents are THREE TIMES more likely to suffer a stroke, but women are unaffected
Adult men who experienced parental divorce before turning 18 are three times more likely to have a strokeWomen from divorced families do not have higher risk
15:19 GMT, 14 September 2012
Men with divorced parents are significantly more likely to suffer a stroke than men from families which stay together, scientists claim.
Adult men who experienced parental
divorce before they turned 18 are three times more likely to suffer a
stroke than men whose parents did not divorce, according to a study.
But women from divorced families did not have a higher risk of stroke than women from intact families.
Gender divide: The risk of stroke is three times higher if a man's parents divorced during his childhood, though this phenomenon does not seem to effect women
Lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, of the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of
Social Work and Department of Family and Community Medicine, said: 'The strong association we found for males between parental divorce and stroke is extremely concerning.
'It is particularly perplexing in light of the fact we excluded from our study individuals who had been exposed to any form of family violence or parental addictions.'
Angela Dalton, the study's co-author added: 'We had anticipated that the association between the childhood experience of parental divorce and stroke may have been due to other factors such as riskier health behaviors or lower socioeconomic status among men whose parents had divorced.
'However, we controlled statistically for most of the known risk factors for stroke, including age, race, income and education, adult health behaviours – smoking, exercise, obesity, and alcohol use – social support, mental health status and health care coverage.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE HAS A STROKE
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off
When a someone suffers a stroke, prompt medical treatment is essential to reduce the amount of damageThe government recently promoted the FAST system to help people recognise the symptoms of a stroke:
Face – a person's face may droop or drop to one side
Arms – Inability to lift or hold up one or both arms is often seen, as well as numbness
Speech – A person may become unable to speak at all, or speech may be slurred or garbled
Time – Emphasising the importance of calling 999 and seeking medical attention immediately
'Even after these adjustments, parental divorce was still associated with a threefold risk of stroke among males.'
Researchers cannot say with certainty why men from divorced families have triple the risk of stroke, but one possibility lies in the body’s regulation of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.
Dr Fuller-Thomson explains the elevated rate of stroke could be linked to a process known as biological embedding.
He said: 'It is possible that exposure to the stress of parental divorce may have biological implications that change the way these boys react to stress for the rest of their lives.'
As with all scientific research, it is essential for many researchers to replicate findings from this study in prospective studies before it is safe to draw any conclusions about causality.
Dr Fuller-Thomson notes that eventually, the results of this study could potentially affect current stroke education policy.
He said: 'If these findings are replicated in other studies, then perhaps health professionals will include information on a patient’s parental divorce status to improve targeting of stroke prevention education.'
Internationally, stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases account for 10 per cent of deaths, making stroke the second leading cause of death.
The study will be published this month in the International Journal of Stroke.