Working single mothers at higher risk of stroke

Work Strain and Stroke Risk

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that being a working single mother puts women in both Europe and the United States at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, and in particular, stroke.

Using a sample of about 6,000 women in the U.S. and 10,000 from 13 European countries — all born between 1935 and 1956 — researchers at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, found that "losing support from a partner, or the security of a job, may cause stress and result in unhealthy behaviors."

Stroke risk factors and stroke symptoms:

Stroke risk factors and stroke symptoms
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Stroke risk factors and stroke symptoms

Strokes are more common among the elderly, with the chance of stroke nearly doubling each decade after the age of 55. 

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Stroke risk is greater in those whose immediate family members have had a stroke, and a stroke can be a symptom of various hereditary disorders.

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The risk of death from stroke is higher in African-Americans as they also have higher risks of complications like high blood pressure and diabetes. 

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Women are also more likely to die of a stroke, possibly due to factors such as birth control usage and pregnancy complications.

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Strokes are more likely in people who have already suffered a stroke or a heart attack. 

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Southeastern states are also called the "stroke belt" states, as strokes are more common in this area. 

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Alcohol abuse can lead to many problems, including strokes. 

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Speech difficulties are a major symptom of someone who has had or is having a stroke.

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Possibly the most noticeable sign of stroke is the drooping of one side of the face, or face numbness.

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Weakness on one side of the body is another symptom of a stroke. 

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The reasons behind this are multifaceted, however. For instance, the study found that the United States has about twice the percentage of working, single mothers as Europe: About 11 percent of mothers in the United States are or have been single, while only 5 percent in Europe have. Working single mothers, the study found, are about 77 percent more likely to smoke than their married peers, placing them at greater risk for both cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The study compared working single mothers with married stay-at-home mothers, single women without children, and married women with jobs and kids. Single working mothers in the U.S., in particular, are at risk, but the state of being single and working does not fully account for the higher rates of stroke: When corrected and accounted for, the risk fell one point but remained firmly above that of Europe.

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