The risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack is increased by diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking. In addition to these classic risk factors, so-called non-traditional risk factors are increasingly coming into focus. Stress, fatigue, insomnia, and exhaustion are listed among these non-traditional risk factors.
Increase In Stress, Exhaustion, and Sleep Disorders
At the European Stroke Organization (ESO) Conference 2021, a team from Switzerland presented data that showed an increase in these non-traditional risk factors, especially in women .
The researchers determined the increase in stress, sleep disorders, etc. from data from a total of 22,000 men and women. These were collected as part of the Swiss health survey of 2007, 2012, and 2017. In Switzerland, the survey has been carried out every five years by the Federal Statistical Office since 1992 in order to collect data on the state of health and health-related behavior of the population.
“Alarming” increase, especially among women
When analyzing the data, the researchers found an “alarming” increase in the number of women who reported these non-traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The trend coincided with the increase in full-time work among women. While 38% of women worked full-time in 2007, five years later the figure was 44%.
Workload-induced stress was reported by both men and women, with an increase for both sexes from 59% in 2012 to 66% in 2017. At the same time, tiredness and exhaustion rose from 23% to 29%. Here the distribution between the sexes was different. 33% of women and 26% of men complained of tiredness and exhaustion. Sleep disorders also increased, from 24% to 29%. Women reported severe sleep disorders more often than men (8% vs. 5%).
Traditional Risk Factors Stable
The traditional risk factors were found to be stable in the surveys: 27% of the respondents suffered from hypertension, 18% from hypercholesterolemia, 5% from diabetes, and 11% from obesity. There was less smoking overall, cigarette consumption fell from 10.5 cigarettes per day to 9.5 cigarettes. Both obesity and smoking were more common in men.
Take Socio-Cultural And Gender Aspects Into Account
The study authors Dr. Martin Hänsel, a neurologist at the University Hospital Zurich, and Professor Dr. Susanne Wegener from the University of Zurich said of the results of the study: “Our study found that men are more likely to smoke and are obese than women. However, women reported a greater increase in non-traditional risk factors for heart attacks and strokes, such as work stress, insomnia, and feelings of tiredness and exhaustion ”, .
“This increase coincides with the number of women in full-time employment. Juggling work and household chores or other socio-cultural issues can be a factor, as can women’s specific health needs that may not be taken into account in our busy everyday lives,” she said Authors continue.
In view of the study results, Wegener points out that women in some countries are already more likely to suffer strokes or heart attacks. One more reason to examine gender-specific differences and non-traditional risk factors more closely and to incorporate this knowledge into future prevention programs.