Strokes strike stressed Swedish women

The incidence of strokes among Swedish women aged 30 to 65 rose by 33 percent in the 1990s, a rise due in part to increasing work-related stress, a Swedish researcher who studied the country's medical records has said.

“The results suggest that the increase in strokes may be work-related, but further studies in this field are needed,” Jennie Medin, who conducted the study for her doctoral thesis at Linköping University, told AFP.

“During the 1990s Sweden went through a macroeconomic crisis that comprised extensive changes in working life, and this severely affected psychosocial working conditions,” she wrote in her thesis.

“There is an increasing body of research on psychological and social stressors at their workplace and their impact on health outcomes … but few studies have focused on stroke as a specific outcome.”

Severe cutbacks were made primarily in the public sector, where many women are employed, she said. More than 80 percent of women in Sweden are employed. Medin noted that women were increasingly adopting men’s lifestyle habits, which may also contribute to the rise in strokes.

“Women have increasingly developed careers but they still have the main responsibility in the home. This study also covers the first generation of women that smoke and are overweight,” she said.

The study examined the incidence of stroke for men and women aged 30 to 65 during the periods 1989-1991 and 1998-2000, and was based on medical records from the National Board of Health and Welfare.

The increase for men was 19 percent.

The study also showed that 20 percent of the 30,000 people who suffer from strokes in Sweden each year are under the age of 65, and that future stroke patients are more often on sick leave than the general population prior to their stroke.

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