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When Sex Leads To A Stroke

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, September 15, 2008 1:59 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Stroke, Stroke Drugs, Children and Stroke, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Heart Disease, Sexual Activity

Preexisting conditions can lead to stroke in young people during intercourse.



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ Bliss symbol/ author: Immanuel Giel 


It didn’t make sense to Dr. Jose Biller.

The chairman of the department of neurology at the Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago treats hundreds of stroke patients a year, but last December one case baffled him. 

The patient was a 35-year-old apparently healthy and nonsmoking woman.  But she showed signs of a stroke – her speech was slurred and the left side of her face and arm became weak. Turns out her symptoms began minutes after having intercourse.

The case is profiled in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease and it concludes that sexual activity likely triggered her stroke. Generally stroke affects men with some risk factors who are much older.  

But this patient had a defect in the heart which predisposed her to stroke.

Dr. Pat Lyden, medical director of the UCSD Stroke Center tells ABC News, "There is nothing about sex that should be reported to increase stroke risk," Lyden explained. "Stroke can occur any time: in the shower, on the toilet, working out in the gym or during a class. I have seen patients [who suffered a stroke] with each of these scenarios."

Dr. Biller reports that the young stroke patient may recover, but the dilemma is how to prevent another stroke.  More than 700,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year. 160,000 of them die. Many others face serious disability.

The patient was taking birth control pills which are known to cause blood clots.  Dr. Biller and his team investigated the patient’s medical history and found a previously undetected hole in her heart.  They theorize that the hole in her heart coupled with a blood clot might have led to the stroke.

Indeed, they eventually found another blood clot in one of the main veins of her right leg. "Most likely what happened was that the clot that was in the venous system traveled to the heart, and because she had that hole, due to the pressure changes that occurred during intercourse, most likely the clot migrated from the right to the left chambers of her heart, and then from the left chamber of the heart and into the brain," Biller explained to ABC News.

The patient was put on aspirin to thin her blood, advised to stop taking birth control pills and scheduled for surgery to repair the hole in her heart.

Doctors warn that this set of circumstances may not be a rare as you think. 

One report finds that about one in every four people has a hole in their heart without knowing it and that can lead to a stroke during sexual intercourse as could any activity that changes blood pressure.  Patent foramen ovale or PFO, may account for one quarter of the strokes in young patients, while atherosclerosis causes most strokes in people over the age of 60.

Other risk for stroke in young people comes from migraine, drug use, athletic injuries that can tear the arteries in the neck and diseases of coagulation.

The risk of PFO stroke is still very small, the researchers conclude.  

And stroke in children affect one out of every 3,000 to 4,000 children mostly occurring between conception and one month of age. Congenital heart disease and sickle cell disease are the most common causes of stroke in children, according to the National Institutes of Health.  

Parents should look for a drooping side of the body, face and slurred speech. #

1 Comment

Posted by Leadgenix
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 1:49 AM EST

I thought the title of the story should have been: When A Stroke Leads To Sex

Comments for this article are closed.

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