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Women who have this gynecological condition more likely to suffer a stroke

The analysis found that women with endometriosis had a 34 percent greater risk of stroke, compared to those without the condition.

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Cramps in a stomach. Female holding hand to spot of painful pregnant belly.
(Maples Images via Shutterstock)

By Stephen Beech via SWNS

Women who suffer from a common gynecological condition are a third more likely to suffer a stroke, according to new research.

A study found that women with endometriosis may have a higher risk of stroke compared to women who don't have the chronic inflammatory condition.

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It affects around one in 10 women.

There's currently no cure, but there are treatments that can help ease the symptoms.

Previous research found that women with endometriosis are at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The latest study reveals that the risk of stroke is raised by 34 percent.

Study senior author Professor Stacey Missmer, of Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, said: “These findings suggest that women with a history of endometriosis may be at higher risk of stroke.

“Clinicians should look at the health of the whole woman, including elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol and other new stroke risk factors, not only symptoms specifically associated with endometriosis, such as pelvic pain or infertility.”

The research team, led by first author Dr. Leslie Farland, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Arizona in Tucson, examined the association between endometriosis and the development of ischemic stroke - caused by blood clots blocking blood flow - or hemorrhagic stroke - caused by bleeding in the brain.

The analysis involved more than 110,000 women who were nurses between the ages of 25 and 42 from 14 U.S. states at the start of the study in 1989.

A laparoscopy was used to make the diagnosis of endometriosis. Endometriosis was reported in 5,244 women.

The researchers analyzed data collected every two years for many possible confounders or risk factors, including alcohol intake, current body mass index, menstrual cycle pattern in adolescence, current oral contraceptive and postmenopausal hormone exposure, smoking history, diet, physical activity, aspirin use, race and income.

They also investigated if the link between endometriosis and risk of stroke could be explained by other mediating factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hysterectomy, removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy) and hormone replacement therapy.

During the 28 years of follow-up, the researchers documented 893 strokes.

The analysis found that women with endometriosis had a 34 percent greater risk of stroke, compared to those without the condition.

The largest proportion of the stroke risk associated with endometriosis was linked to hysterectomy or removal of the ovaries (39 per cent) and postmenopausal hormone therapy (16 per cent).

No significant differences were seen in the relationship between endometriosis and stroke across multiple factors - such as age, infertility history, body mass index or menopausal status.

Prof Missmer said: "There are circumstances when a hysterectomy and/or oophorectomy (corr) is the best choice for a woman, however, we also need to make sure that patients are aware of the potential health risks associated with these procedures.

“Other research also suggests that hysterectomy is associated with elevated stroke risk even if there is no history of endometriosis.”

She added: “These results do not indicate that women who have endometriosis will have a stroke.

"Instead, these findings signify only an association of moderate relative risk. The absolute risk of stroke in women is low.

“Women with endometriosis should pay attention to their whole body and discuss added risks and preventive options with their health care team.”

Garima Sharma, director of cardio-obstetrics and assistant director of medicine at Johns Hopkins Cardiology said: “While we know that adverse pregnancy outcomes are associated with increased risk of premature cardiovascular disease, this study sheds light on the association of gynecological issues such as endometriosis with stroke, which could impact both patients and clinicians.

"Most importantly, this study underscores the importance of understanding reproductive and gynaecological history.”

The study was published in the journal Stroke.

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