33MD for February 10, 2009

POSTED: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - 8:21pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:57pm

When it comes to strokes, women are less likely than men to get appropriate medical attention and medication are and are more likely to die from them. A group of studies published today in the American Heart Association’s Medical Journal, called “Stroke,” says, overall quality of care for the most common type of stroke was lower for women than for men. Another study found that among a group of highly educated women, just 5% of those with an irregular heartbeat knew it was a risk factor for stroke. The good news? Doctors say most risk factors can be lowered significantly through lifestyle changes and medication.

Dr. Susan Bennett of American Heart Association says, “If we’re able to get all our risk factors lined up, all those risk factors controlled, then we can prevent heart disease and stroke by over 80%.”

Stroke symptoms may be subtle, but most experience sudden numbness, weakness, confusion, trouble speaking or seeing.

Women who are obese when they get pregnant may be putting their baby’s health at risk. Researchers from the UK analyzed data from 18 studies that looked at the relationship between a woman’s weight and her baby’s health. They found women who were obese at the start of their pregnancy had a slightly increased risk for having babies with spina bifida, heart defects, and cleft palate. While the risk was small, experts say because of the growing obesity epidemic, more attention needs to be paid to a woman’s weight during her child-bearing years.

It’s well known that Americans are getting heavier, with about a third considered obese. Now those weight problems are showing up in the military. A recent report from the Defense Department finds the number of troops diagnosed as overweight has more than doubled in the past 5 years. Between 1998 and 2002, the number of overweight soldiers remained about the same, at about 2 in 100. But after 2003, that number increased to 1 in 20. The current statistics only take into account those who are diagnosed by a doctor.