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In the UK, around three-quarters of a million people live with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The condition features a series of unwanted obsessions and fears. These unwelcome thoughts can be extremely distressing and lead people towards repetitive behaviours, or compulsions, to try and ease anxiety. OCD can interfere with daily activities and relationships.
A new study has found that adults who have OCD are more than three times as likely to have a stroke later in life.
Researchers looked at data coming from more than 28,000 people diagnosed with OCD and 28,000 people without the condition.
They compared stroke risks between the two groups over a period of 11 years.
They also found that the greatest risk of stroke was among adults who had OCD and were aged 60 or older.
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Researchers also identified OCD as an independent risk factor for stroke.
“For decades, studies have found a relationship between stroke first and OCD later,” said Dr Ya-Mei Bai, author of the study.
Researchers, however, wanted to verify whether the reverse was true.
“Our findings remind clinicians to closely monitor blood pressure and lipid profiles, which are known to be related to stroke in patients with OCD.”
The study, though, was purely observational.
It only proved an association between an existing OCD and a later stroke.
It does not actually prove that OCD can cause an ischemic stroke.
“More research is needed to understand how the mental processes connected to OCD may increase the risk of ischemic stroke,” Dr Bai commented.
“The results of our study should encourage people with OCD to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” argued Dr Bai.
Stroke is, indeed, the second leading cause of death worldwide, and it’s usually preventable with a healthy lifestyle.
Quitting or not smoking, regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight are all useful lifestyle changes that help reduce the risk of a stroke.
Among other stroke prevention strategies are also controlling high blood pressure, lowering the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet, and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.
OCD, on the other hand, is not preventable.
Risk factors include family history and genetics, as well as stressful life events.
The mental condition has a major impact on some or all aspects of one’s daily life, sometimes becoming disabling.
Complications include a series of health and social issues, but whether stroke could be directly caused by the condition is yet to be established.
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