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Does Type 2 Diabetes Increase Stroke Risk?

type 2 diabetes ischemic stroke


Diabetes can be a debilitating condition that affects every aspect of the patient’s daily life. It requires constant blood sugar monitoring, following a strict diet and in most cases, getting daily insulin injections. As if the constant management of diabetes weren’t enough, a recent study found that the condition can ultimately lead to dire medical issues.

Does Diabetes Increase the Risk Of Stroke?

A new study conducted by Rongrong Yang, (a PhD candidate at Tianjin Medical University in China) found that developing Type 2 diabetes during middle age can increase your risk of having an ischemic stroke by about 30 percent. This is not the first study that has linked diabetes to increased stroke risk, but it sets itself apart from other research by pinpointing the particular ages most at risk. It is also the first to specifically distinguish the type of diabetes and the consequential type of stroke.

The study found that individuals in their 40’s and 50’s who developed Type 2 diabetes were twice as likely to have narrowing of the blood vessels in their brain as they aged. This is in addition to increasing their risk of ischemic stroke by about 30 percent. An ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke. It occurs when there is a blockage to a blood vessel in the brain.

ischemic stroke causes

To be sure that the increased stroke risk and narrowing of blood vessels was not due to other factors, researchers carefully assessed the impact these other factors had on the subjects. Environmental and genetic factors like smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and family history were all looked at when considering the impact on the increased stroke risk. The study found that for these particular subjects, those factors could not be connected to the narrowing of blood vessels and increased risk of stroke. This could lead the researchers to conclude that the patients’ Type 2 diabetes was at play when it came to the likelihood of these other conditions.

The Relationship Between Type 2 Diabetes and Stroke Risk

So why might Type 2 diabetes specifically be linked with ischemic stroke? The study wasn’t able to determine a direct cause and effect, but suggests that it could be the elevated cholesterol typically found in diabetic patients. High cholesterol levels have been shown to be a direct cause of ischemic stroke. This could be the root reason that patients with Type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of having an ischemic stroke later in life.

Is there anything that patients with Type 2 diabetes can do to decrease their risk of narrowing blood vessels or ischemic stroke? Yang suggests getting regular exercise, following a healthy diet, and avoiding risk factors like smoking, alcohol, and obesity.

diabetes and stroke risk

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