The study appeared in Stroke, the journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Schools of Public Health reported that the risk is especially high for older women. They connect lower levels of the hormone DHEAS, or dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, with this higher stroke risk.
The study’s subjects included women from the Nurses’ Health Study of 1976. They had no reported history of strokes when they joined that study. The levels of DHEAS of these women were tested between 1989 & 1990. The 461 stroke patients were matched up for age, race, whether or not they were in menopause, compared with the same number in controls.
The study showed that women who had strokes were more likely to have diabetes and a history of high blood pressure. They also found that when women had DHEAS levels in the bottom quarter of the study, they had a higher risk of an Ischemic Stroke. This is where the blood supply lowers in the brain, leading to a malfunction in the affected part of the patient’s brain. On further research, this risk was found to be between 1/3 greater, to as high as 41% greater, in affected women, than those with hormone levels in the top quarter.
The study’s authors said that DHEAS could affect the chances developing heart-related diseases, even stroke. The hormone may slow down the movement and growth of cells making up a blood vessel, and their replacement when a vessel is injured.
The authors concluded that additional research is needed to confirm the same risks of strokes in other groups of people.
Study: “Low Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate is Associated With Increased Risk of Ischemic Stroke Among Women” by Jiménez et. al. Stroke. 2013;44:1784-1789, May 23 2013, doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.000485