A Spike in Strokes Among Middle-Aged Women Blamed on Obesity

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New Orleans (AP) Researchers are uncovering a huge leap in the number of strokes in middle-aged women in recent years, a trend blamed on the obesity epidemic.

The University of Southern California study says nearly two percent of women ages 35 to 54 reported suffering a stroke between 1999 and 2004, compared to just a-half percent between 1988 and 1994. The near tripling in the number of strokes coincides with an Increase in women's waistlines and blood sugar levels over the past decade.

At a New Orleans medical conference, doctors say it's an ominous sign because strokes usually happen to older people.

Researchers say the stroke rate has spiked in middle-aged women but stayed about the same in middle-aged men. They say belly fat may be a factor. Women tend to accumulate more than men.