Related Topics: Features, Strokes

Synthetic Hormones and Stroke Risk

Synthetic hormones in birth control pills and HRT are commonly prescribed, yet for women they can carry an increased risk of having a stroke.

AnnA Rushton

Surprising though it may seem, having a stroke is one of the leading causes of death overall and is now a serious health threat for middle aged women. An ischemic stroke is the most common type and occurs where there is an obstruction in a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain.

The danger is that strokes give very little, or no warning, so being prepared and informed on how best to avoid and treat them is the best defence.

How recognize the warning signs

Speed is of the essence when dealing with a stroke and in order to be effective, you typically need to get treated within one hour. There are effective emergency medications that can dissolve a blood clot, and if done quickly enough can virtually reverse any permanent neurological damage.

if you see these warning signs do not hesitate but get medical help immediately: .

  • Sudden trouble walking (dizziness, loss of balance, etc.)
  • Sudden confusion
  • Sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of your body only)
  • Sudden trouble seeing
  • Sudden severe headache

Why are women getting more strokes?

The usual suspects are a rise in obesity and high sugar levels coupled with a fall in the amount of vitamin D intake and an increase in the use of synthetic hormones in the Pill and HRT.

Diet clearly plays a crucial role case of strokes as obesity is one of the key factors. There are also certain foods that have been linked to an increased risk of stroke and that you might want to eliminate or reduce in your diet.

These are:

1 Red meat (organic does not carry the same risk)

2 Salt (unrefined natural salt is lower risk)

3 Trans fats (not saturated fats – which we need in small quantities) are found in processed foods and carry a high risk. One study has shown post menopausal women who had the highest daily dietary trans fats had a 30 percent higher incidence of ischemic strokes

4 Preservatives such as sodium nitrate and nitrite which are found in smoked and processed meats have been shown to damage blood vessels which could increase stroke risk. The World Cancer Research Fund has stated that no one should eat processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, salami and other processed meats due to increased health risks, besides strokes. Again if you are eating them, go organic and uncured.

5 Just one diet soft drink a day – according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference – they may increase your stroke risk by 48 per cent.

What else can you do?

Two other factors can also impact your stroke risk, stress and synthetic hormones. A 2008 study showed that when measured on a standard wellbeing scale, every time you scored lower you increased your stroke risk by a staggering 11%. Do everything you can to reduce stress levels through diet, exercise and simple measures like listening to music or meditating. For more help my book ‘How To Cope Successfully With Stress’ will help you identify your stress triggers and show you how to minimize and cope with stress.

If you’re using a hormonal birth control method – either Pill, patch or implant – then together with women on HRT you are exposing yourself to an increased risk due to the synthetic hormones such as the progestogens and estrogens they contain. These are well researched and do carry increased risk of strokes, blood clots and heart attacks. Switching to natural bio-identical forms of HRT or natural contraception will reduce your risk, and in the case of bio-identical progesterone it is also protective against breast cancer as it balances out excess estrogen.

It is up to you to assess your risk of stroke from those factors listed here, particularly if you also have other risk factors through your family history, and take the appropriate action. Remember if you have any of the warning signs seek help immediately, do not delay.

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