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Weather Changes Can Affect Stroke

While relationship remains questionable, there are some links

SATURDAY, May 1, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- It's hard to imagine the weather could actually play a role in something as serious as a stroke, but some research has indeed shown a link and doctors continue to debate the matter.

Some studies have suggested the incidence of stroke coincides with sudden temperature drops and high humidity levels. However, a recent study of stroke rates in Canada's "Chinook Belt," where extreme weather changes occur frequently, discounted the previous research, finding no significant changes in stroke rates that coincided with weather patterns.

Still, those findings were debated and the relationship between stroke and weather remains questionable.

What is known is that stroke tends to run in families and is linked to such risk factors as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and smoking, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

There are two types of stroke: ischemic, in which blood supply to the brain is blocked or interrupted; and hemorrhagic, in which a blood vessel in the brain bursts, causing bleeding into spaces surrounding brain cells.

Symptoms can include sudden numbness or weakness, sudden confusion or trouble speaking, or loss of balance. Experts say that with timely treatment, brain cells can be saved and permanent damage, such as paralysis, can be prevented. That's why it's critical to get to a hospital at the first signs of a possible stroke.

More information

Visit the American Stroke Association for more information on the warning signs of stroke.

SOURCE: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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