Health

Workaholics and Younger Adults Facing Higher Risk of Stroke

October 31st, 2016
 Workaholics and Younger Adults Facing Higher Risk of Stroke

Strokes are not limited to those who smoke or have uncontrolled high blood pressure. New research indicates those who work excessive overtime hours might be increasing the risk of stroke by as much as one-third.

People who worked 55 hours or more per week were 13% more likely to develop heart disease than those with more regular work weeks. A separate analysis of data from previous studies found that those who worked more than 55 hours a week were one-third more likely to suffer a stroke according to a story in HealthDay News.

While researchers couldn't prove an exact cause for the increased stroke risk, they suggest physical inactivity, higher drinking rates and higher stress levels associated with workaholics may be to blame. One physician said he was “surprised” by the study's results.

"The risk is almost as bad as smoking, which increases the risk of stroke by about 50 percent," Stephan Mayer, M.D., director of neurocritical care at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, told HealthDay News.

“To my mind the most plausible explanation is chronic triggering of the stress response that comes with working long hours, pressure to perform and not enough time for family, loved ones and peaceful rest," Mayer said.

In 2012 U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) suffered a stroke at age 52. Kirk went through extensive rehab and is back to work in the Senate. While he has some physical limitations, he was very lucky that his intellect is still with him.

A 2005 study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, underscores that health issues that cause Long Term Health Care are now happening at younger ages. With advances in medical science these individuals survive these health events but don’t die. Many people end up requiring help with activities of daily living for an extended period of time. This places both financial strain and emotional problems for the families of those dealing with these Long Term Health Care events. Generally health insurance, like Medicare, will pay very little for extended Long Term Health Care.

"This is still a disease of the old, but a surprisingly higher proportion of younger patients are having strokes, and it's getting worse over time," says researcher Brett Kissela, MD, professor and vice chair of neurology at the University of Cincinnati.

The rate of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity among younger people are all risk factors for strokes. About 795,000 Americans are affected by stroke annually, according to the American Stroke Association.

Most are ischemic strokes, caused by an obstruction within the blood vessel. Others occur when a blood vessel ruptures, called hemorrhagic strokes.

Cognitive decline related to stroke is usually called vascular dementia or vascular cognitive impairment to distinguish it from other types of dementia. In the United States, it is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's Disease. Vascular dementia is preventable, but only if the underlying vascular disease is recognized and treated early.

People who have had a stroke have a 9 times greater risk of dementia than people who have not had a stroke. About 1 in 4 people who have a stroke develop signs of dementia within 1 year.

The symptoms of stroke vary, depending on which part of the brain is affected. The common symptoms of stroke are sudden paralysis or loss of sensation in part of the body (especially on one side), partial loss of vision or double vision, or loss of balance. Loss of bladder and bowel control can also occur.

Other symptoms include decline in “cognitive” mental functions such as memory, speech and language, thinking, organization, reasoning, or judgment. Changes in behavior and personality may occur. If these symptoms are severe enough to interfere with everyday activities, they are called dementia.

Experts suggest better balance of lifestyle, regular check-ups and good diet can help. Planning for Long Term Health Care is also suggested while a person’s health is still good. Generally experts suggest people look at Long Term Care Insurance as part of their overall retirement plan.

These policies are very affordable if purchased between 40 to 65. Many people younger than 40 may have other pressing needs to address. Those older than 65 will many times have health issues which could make them more difficult to obtain coverage. Seeking help from a Long Term Care specialist is desirable to find out if this coverage is appropriate for you.