People with this mental problem more than three times likely to have stroke

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In a new study from Taipei Veterans General Hospital, researchers found that adults who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) were more than three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke later in life compared to adults who do not have OCD.

The findings may encourage people with OCD to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as quitting or not smoking, getting regular physical activity and managing a healthy weight to avoid stroke-related risk factors.

Worldwide, stroke is the second-leading cause of death after heart disease. Stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when blood and oxygen flow to the brain are interrupted, usually by a blood clot (ischemic stroke).

The abbreviation F.A.S.T. can help people remember the warning signs and what to do: F-face drooping, A-arm weakness, S-speech difficulty, T-time to call 9-1-1.

OCD is a common, sometimes debilitating, mental health condition characterized by intrusive, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make a person feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).

The repetitive behaviors characteristic of OCD, such as hand washing, checking on things or continuously cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.

In the study, the team examined health records to compare stroke risk between 28,064 adults with OCD and 28,064 adults who did not have OCD.

The average age at diagnosis with OCD was 37 years, and women and men were nearly equally represented in the data. Researchers compared stroke risk between the two groups for up to 11 years.

The analysis found people with OCD were more than three times as likely to have a stroke from a blood clot compared to adults who did not have OCD; the greatest risk was among adults ages 60 and older.

Medications to treat OCD were not associated with an increased risk of stroke.

The team says for decades, studies have found a relationship between stroke first and OCD later. These findings remind clinicians to closely monitor blood pressure and lipid profiles, which are known to be related to stroke in patients with OCD.

If you care about stroke and brain health, please read studies about this blood thinner drug plus aspirin could strongly reduce stroke risk and findings of a new way to prevent recurrent stroke.

For more information about stroke prevention and treatment, please see recent studies about  these foods linked to high risks of heart disease and stroke and results showing that adding these drugs to statins may lower stroke risk.

The study is published in Stroke. One author of the study is Ya-Mei Bai, M.D., Ph.D.

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